TEMPE, AZ. – As one of the most unique collegiate opportunities for student-athletes across all sports, four champions from the ITA Cup (small college championship) receive the opportunity to play at the ITA National Fall Championship, where they will compete against the best of the best from the NCAA Division I level. 

In 2022, ITA Cup Champions from NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, and Junior College were represented at the 2022 ITA National Fall Championships, with two of the four earning wins in the opening round. 

Barry’s Deniz Khazan was the women’s singles ITA Cup wild card at the National Fall Championships. Khazan is a four-time ITA All-American who has not lost a collegiate match against a non-DI opponent. 

After winning her second consecutive ITA Cup Singles Championship this fall, Khazan got her first shot at Division I competition at the National Fall Championships where she would leave quite the impression on her competition. 

Facing Anastasiya Komar of LSU in the opening round, Khazan would cruise to a 6-4, 6-1 win. In her next match against top-seeded Carson Tanguillig of North Carolina, Khazan took the first set from the No. 8 ranked singles player in the Division I ITA Women’s Singles Rankings, before ultimately falling in three sets.

Khazan is hoping to lead Barry to its sixth consecutive NCAA II Championship in May. 

Takeshi Taco of Cowley (Kan.) represented the small colleges in men’s singles. The returning ITA All-American continued to elevate his game this fall, winning the Junior College singles draw at the ITA Cup to earn his spot into the National Fall Championships. 

Facing Baylor All-American Finn Bass in the first round, Taco had his experienced opponent on the ropes early, winning the first set 6-4.  Trading blows the rest of the way, Taco had his chances but ultimately fell to the Baylor senior 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. 

Taco won National Championships for Cowley at No. 2 Singles and No. 1 doubles last season and will look to help them back to the top of the JUCO ranks this spring.

Another Division II institution from the Sunshine State Conference was represented as the women’s doubles wild card at the National Fall Championships as Fatima Bizhukova & Natalie Espinal of Nova Southeastern faced off against the nation’s best in San Diego.

Taking on Cubitt & Rabinowitz of LSU in the first round, Bizhukova and Espinal continued their fall success, rolling to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the SEC duo. No. 13 ranked, Chloe Beck and Cameron Morra, of Duke ended the impressive fall for the Nova Southeastern pair in the second round. 

Bizhukova and Espinal helped Nova Southeastern to the No. 2 team ranking last spring, and they will look to lead the Sharks back to the top of Division II women’s tennis this spring.

In Men’s Doubles, the Case Western Reserve pair of Vishwa Aduru and James Hopper represented NCAA Division III well at the National Fall Championships, challenging the nation’s best in both of their matches. 

One of the most decorated D-III players in recent history, Hopper teamed up with Aduru for the first time this fall and immediately found success, leading to their selection as ITA Cup Wild Cards. 

In the first round, the Case duo faced the No. 3 seeds, Alexander Jong and Lui Maxted of TCU in a tightly-contested match.  After dropping the first set, Aduru and Hopper fought back to win the second set, before dropping a 10-8 match tiebreaker. 

Jong and Maxted advanced to the finals, demonstrating the high level of play at the top levels of Division I and Division III. 

Aduru and Hopper seek to build on Case’s 2021-22 season when they were crowned the Division III National Team Indoor Champions and NCAA National Runners-Up.

ITA Cup Wild Card Results

Deniz Khazan (Barry)

  • def. Anastasiya Komar (LSU), 6-4, 6-1
  • loss [5-8] Carson Tanguilig (North Carolina), 6-3, 3-6, 0-6

Fatima Bizhukova & Natalie Espinal (Nova Southeastern)

  • def. Cubitt/Rabinowitz (LSU), 6-3, 6-4
  • loss Beck/Morra (Duke), 1-6, 0-6 

Takeshi Taco (Cowley)

  • loss Finn Bass (Baylor), 6-4, 3-6, 3-6
  • loss Nathan Han (Oklahoma), 5-7, 0-6

Vishwa Aduru & James Hopper (Case Western Reserve)

  • loss [3] Alexander Jong & Lui Maxted (TCU), 3-6, 6-3, 8-10
  • loss Younes Lalami & Brandon Perez (Old Dominion), 3-6, 6-4, 8-10
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