Not many D-III tennis players get the chance that senior Timmy Berg and first-year Christopher Ellis received two weeks ago. Under warm temperatures and favorable weather, the two Bobcats traveled down to Bradenton, Florida to participate in the Vitale Clay Court Classic, an event organized and run by notable ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale.
There are multiple reasons why the event was so special for the Bates duo. One reason is the fact that Berg and Ellis were the only D-III players present at the event, while the rest heralded from D-I schools. The other notable reason for the remarkability of the students’ participation in the tournament is due to the fact Berg, a cancer survivor himself, was able to participate in a tournament where all the proceeds go to the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Speaking to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Vitale explained, “It gives me the chills, because I remember the whole scenario and what he went through. You can’t keep this kid down. He is resilient. He is tough-minded.”
In addition to 21 the week before the big event, the celebration continued for Berg as the Vitale tournament marks Berg’s status as cancer free for more than seven years.
However, for Berg and Ellis, there was some tennis to be played as well, senior Berg had strong showing on day one. In his first match, Berg was on the clay court against North Florida foe Bernardo Craveiro. The senior was able to advance to the Round of 16 with a convincing victory over the sophomore 6-4, 6-0. Next, Berg took on Virginia freshman Luca Corinteli, falling 6-1, 6-3.
The Bates duo eventually teamed up in doubles action, first squaring off with the Duke University tandem of Bruno Semenzato and Jason Tahir. Though they fell 8-6, the two preformed admirably.
Berg wasn’t the only Bobcat getting in on the singles action, as Christopher Ellis also preformed under the big spotlight. Against University of Minnesota freshman Franz Sydow, Ellis forced the Golden Gopher to go three sets, only one of three matches to do so.
Even though Ellis came out on the losing end in his first match, he moved on to defeat University of Tulsa sophomore Lucas Vaz before falling 6-3, 6-3 to Florida Gulf Coast University junior Tianyu Bao, who last year was a Second Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection.
Berg and Ellis will have a considerable amount of time to rest before future matches with the Bates squad, as they rejoin the team to take on Whittier on February 18th.