Kalamazoo, Mich. - North Carolina Wesleyan's Robert Kjellberg and Artsiom Prostak became the first tennis duo in program history to play for the NCAA Division III National Championship on Saturday afternoon, but the Bishops would come up just short versus Emory en route to a runner-up finish.
Kjellberg, a junior from Sweden, and Prostak, a senior from Belarus, advanced to the National Championship match with a straight-set win over Washington & Lee's Michael Holt and Taylor Shamshiri (6-3, 7-6). The victory avenged a pair of losses to Holt/Shamshiri earlier in the season, and gave Kjellberg/Prostak the new program-record for doubles wins in a season with 23. (Kjellberg also set the program-record for singles wins with 31 this season.)
Ironically, the tables turned on the Bishops in the title match as they took on Emory's Elliot Kahler and Ian Wagner, whom they held a 2-0 record against this season. Like Kjellberg/Prostak in the semifinal, Kahler/Wagner were able to avenge those losses with a straight-set win (7-6, 6-1) to secure the National Championship for the Eagles.
Both All-Americans, Kjellberg and Prostak have now completed what will likely be considered the best individual seasons in program history.
"The guys had a great year taking our program to places it had not been," commented head coach Worth Richardson, who completes his first season at the helm of the program. "They played so well this season and this week, defining what it means to be a Bishop exhibiting great poise, ability, heart, and sportsmanship. We will look to build on this going into next year where we hope to bring home a national title."
"It feels good to be the only player in the semis of both singles and doubles," said Kjellberg. "I am really looking forward to next year. Coach Richardson has been amazing, and we are only going to get better."
Said Prostak, "Being able to play in the singles and doubles tournament was a great experience after playing at Wesleyan for four years. It feels good to be an All-American."
Congrats to both Bishops on their tremendous seasons!