“Again, a strong 6-3/6-4 player. He has had [Invergorden] for what, 12 years?” Hewitt said. “Invergorden is a good player, and he is a good placement server. Russ is probably maybe a lesser player than Jack, but it is the same type of mentality. He’s capable of winning 1 set and losing 3 sets.”
In Hewitt and Chatrier, Rogers appeared to have met that challenge. After taking the first set, he dropped the second to the seventh-ranked Kenyon player. The match then seemed to be in doubt by late Saturday morning when the two players stood at 3-2 all in the third set. But Rogers tightened up on a serve and held the third set at 5-all, then, on the heels of a solid conditioning program and careful weight lifting, made a break of serve to take a 6-3, 6-3 victory in the fourth or final set of tennis, which was played indoors as the temperature dropped and rain began to threaten the stadium.
Rogers and Kenyon became the third school in the tournament’s inaugural season to capture two EIVA outdoor championships (1988, `89, `94, `96, `97, `98, `99 and 2000) and, with the NCAA team championship, are the first school to have won three NCAA crowns in five years.
Rogers, who transferred from the College of New Jersey 10 years ago, said that his individual performance overshadowed what was special.
“It is kind of neat and at the same time frustrating because it also could have just as easily not panned out at all,” Rogers said. “Coming in as the number one seed and staking a double-digit lead in the second match and getting up on Pong and he is a good player . . .being in with a chance in the third match, that’s how you would prefer to lose (the final). But I wouldn’t want any other way.”
He added, “It is satisfying because if you asked someone in trying to pick a number 4-5 rank school – if you could pick a school and say `I can win an EIVA title in my fourth year as a player,’ I would have said, that’s Kenyon. I’m glad I can say that.” He also said he is “glad no one else picked Kenyon.”
Chatrier, who set the tournament record by winning 187 of 208 matches, finished his career with two EIVA titles, but his career barely survived the loss.
“I didn’t think the first time we played this (the EIVA championship) that I would come back and play for a second time in my career and it sure didn’t end the way I thought. In fact, I don’t even know if my career could have ended,” Chatrier said. “But I will always be happy for Russ . . .He’s a very nice guy. And he deserves to win, as he has been playing well all year.”
Chatrier added, “I never win tournaments, that’s for sure. Everything I do I want my last match to be my best match ever. So I was doing well in my head, but I deflated. I played terrible. He just played some balls.”
For 15th-year coach Pete Invergorden, whose teams were 61-13-1 this season, the fight back by Rogers was typical of how he plays a match.
“He’s very tough mentally,” Invergorden said. “He’s a gym rat. He’s a guy who watches coach’s videos and charts his opponents. That is why he is so good. He did something a lot of juniors tend to do, that is he relaxed at the end of the match. He was doing things in practice that he won’t do in a match. He has the ability to win, the confidence to win, but he didn’t have the killer instinct . . .but he has learned to do that. He stepped it up.”
Invergorden added, “It was a great run. This him first to win a NCAA title. He has been the MVP of our team. He was the one big victor.”
Providence finished second in the EIVA championship, just a half-point out of first. Mark Chapman of Setauket, LI was the match out for the Friars, who are tied for third in the national rankings.
This year’s EIVA tournament gave Kenyon its greatest tennis championship history. The college/school has captured 14 EIVA regular season titles, seven AEC crowns and three EIVA team championships.