Swedish Duo Wins Regional Title
Sewanee, Tenn.––Robert Kjellberg teamed with fellow Swede Johan Ljungdahl to win the USTA/ITA South Regional doubles title, beating a team from NCWC’s perennial nemesis, Emory University, September 20-22.
The three-day tournament, hosted by the University of the South, saw Kjellberg and Ljungdahl vanquish tandems from Methodist (8-2), Birmingham Southern (8-1), Sewanee (8-4) and Emory (8-1) to set up a championship match with the Eagles' duo of Eric Halpern and Simon Lavoie-Perusse. After Halpern captured the singles crown, the Bishops ruined his attempt at a sweep with a dominant 8-4 win for the title.
Ljungdahl said the victory was sweeter because it was over two Emory players. “I knew how tough the south regional would be to win, with all the good players from Emory,” he said.
The sophomore said it was also gratifying because he was not sure, at one time, whether he would return to Wesleyan. “It was an amazing feeling to win the title,” he said. “I’m glad to be at Wesleyan because it was not certain I would be back here. It feels great.”
The two Swedes have known each other for a long time, Ljungdahl said. Their rapport, not to mention the common language, has helped the two communicate well on the court. Though Ljungdahl is from Stockholm and Kjellberg is a native of Vetlanda, the two “grew up with the same tennis background” and training, Ljungdahl explained.
“We know each other well,” he said. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and it helps that he’s right-handed and I’m left-handed.”
The Bishops were not as successful in singles action, though many players acquitted themselves well. In main draw singles, top-seeded Kjellberg, a senior, cruised through the early rounds with four straight-set wins, but he was upset by Emory's Rafe Mosetick 6-1, 6-3 in the semifinal round. Ljungdahl went 2-1 in singles play, while junior Peter Hviid went 1-1.
Also making notable runs were sophomore Eduardo Ugalde and senior Panayot Kusidi. Ugalde was a perfect 5-0 in the Atlantic draw, which included a straight-set championship win over Emory's Tyler Gadbois (6-2, 7-6 [8-6]). Kusidi was impressive as well, making it to the semifinal round before falling to Gadbois, 8-4.
The Bishops will travel to Fort Myers, Florida, on October 10 to participate in the ITA Small College championships.
“It will take a lot of hard work and dedication by Robert and me,” said Ljungdahl, “but our goal now is to win the national title in Florida.”
(Sports Information contributed to this article.)