Bortz gets second shot at NCAAs: Sports Shorts 5/9/06

By Kate Fratar

After another stellar season, men’s tennis ace is seeking to go out in style.

Returning to the NCAA Division III Championship singles competition for the second straight season, fourth-year Ward Bortz will have an opportunity to end his final season in Hyde Park the same way he ended his first: as an All-American. Posting a 16–9 mark in solo outings and a 6–3 record against regionally ranked foes this spring, the Maroons’ veteran heads to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia May 17–22 to take on the nation’s best.

“He deserves to be in it,” head coach Marty Perry said. “He has had the victories that he needed to make the NCAA tournament.”

Last year at the National showdown, Bortz split a pair of decisions, taking the opener against Swarthmore third-year Jon Reiss 7–5, 6–7 (4), 6–0 but falling in the second round 6–2, 6–3 to sixth-seeded Kevin Casey, a 2005 graduate of University of California–Santa Cruz. With the victory in his pocket, Bortz finished the year 26–10 and returned to Chicago as an All-American and one of the two athletes from the Central Region to survive the first round.

Having not competed since the UAAs at Emory April 21–22, Bortz heads into Fredericksburg with last year’s experience under his belt but also with a little rust on his racket. The veteran looked plenty sharp in Atlanta as he and third-year Vivek Venkataraman posted a perfect 2–0 outing to earn first-team honors at first doubles. With the month break from competition, Bortz has kept up his physical endurance with cardio and lifting exercises. Getting back the mental edge needed for matches poses another hurdle to overcome, but Perry feels confident that the experienced Bortz will easily put his game face back on once he takes the Fredericksburg court.

Seeding for the big tournament will not be announced until closer to the event.