The No. 2 seeded Charleston men’s tennis team and the No. 2 seeded women’s tennis team both fell in their CAA championship matches over the weekend. Both squads lost to No. 1 seeded UNC Wilmington on the campus of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
MEN: Wilmington 4, Charleston 0
The men’s team was ousted by a dominant Wilmington team, who has won the CAA Championship in four of the past six seasons.
The Seahawks jumped out to an early lead thanks to their doubles play. UNCW’s No. 2 team of Pedro Mol and Kaue Pereira rolled over Charleston’s Crescente Lesser and Rodrigo Encinas, 8-2, before the Seahawks clinched the point at No. 1 when Rafael Aita and Sam Williams got past Brice Allanic and Alon Faiman, 8-5.
UNCW carried the momentum into singles, where it posted three straight-set victories. Aita, the CAA Player of the Year, cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win over Allanic at No. 1 and Pereira was close behind at No. 4, beating Zack Lewis, 6-1, 6-4 to make it 3-0. The match ended at the No. 5 flight when Santtu Leskinen topped Charlie Ghriskey, 6-1, 6-2.
The loss snapped the Cougars’ seven match winning streak.
WOMEN: Wilmington 4, Charleston 3
In a thrilling women’s final, the title came down to the No. 1 singles flight between UNCW’s Angie Sekely, the CAA Player of the Year, and Charleston’s Kelly Kambourelis, a first-team All-CAA honoree. Sekely fought off several set points before taking the opening set 7-6 (7-1) in a tiebreaker. Kambourelis jumped out to a 3-1 advantage in the second set, but Sekely turned the tables by winning five consecutive games to earn a 6-3 victory.
Charleston overcame an early deficit to claim the doubles point as well. UNCW’s No. 3 duo of Kelly Cameron and Miller Hales remained unbeaten on the season by blanking Grace Baker and Brooke McAmis, 8-0. The Cougars then drew even on court one as Jenny Falcone and Katherine Schofield defeated Olga Blank and Christine Kharkevitch, 8-4. The point was decided at No. 2 when Kambourelis and Mara Argyriou held off Sekely and Alyssa Ritchie, 8-4.
The Cougars pushed their lead to 2-0 in singles when Argyriou beat CAA Rookie of the Year Annika Sillanpaa, 6-4, 6-1. However, UNCW battled back with victories in the next three matches. Blank earned a 6-2, 6-1 decision over McAmis at No. 2, Ritchie topped Samantha Maddox, 6-4, 6-1 at No. 4, and Cameron outlasted Falcone, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 at No. 6. The Cougars tied the match at 3-3 after Schofield defeated Kharkevitch, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 5, setting the stage for the drama at No. 1.
“I’m proud of the way we played today,” said Charleston director of tennis Angelo Anastopoulo. “UNCW responded well after we won the doubles point to go on and win four out of six singles matches. For us, this conference will take some time to get used to. We lost a couple of SoCon finals as well in early years before we really figured it out. With that being said, I’m proud of our team and I’m very proud of our seniors. They leave having won three conference titles and having played in three NCAA Tournaments. They showed a lot of class in defeat today. Kelly Kambourelis, playing in her final match as a Cougar, put forth a performance worthy of any superlative. She did everything her body would allow her to do and I’m incredibly proud of the way she played.”
Information courtesy of Charleston Athletics Communications.