|Tennis Trio Makes Final Home Appearance|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Three seniors who have played major roles in the greatest four-year run in the history of UNCW men’s tennis play their final home match Friday when the 45th-ranked Seahawks entertain state rival UNC Charlotte at the UNCW courts.
Veterans Rafael Aita, Matt Kealy and Pedro Mol have sparked the Seahawks to a 69-23 overall record and 45-3 home mark over the last four seasons. Not to mention three NCAA Tournament appearances, a pair of Colonial Athletic Association championships and several other “firsts” with UNCW’s national-caliber program.
“This group of seniors came into our program at a very transitional time,” said seventh-year UNCW Head Coach Mait DuiBois. ”Rafa, Matt and Pedro brought great energy and enthusiasm into their first year and took on the challenge of building on the tradition before them. They have demonstrated every day that our program is committed to playing the best programs in the country and we are always looking to get better.”
The Seahawks carry a 12-6 record into Friday’s 2 p.m. match with the 49ers. UNCW has battled nine nationally-ranked opponents this spring, going 5-4 against the competitive group, including a 4-3 upset of No. 37 VCU two weeks ago in Richmond.
The crafty Aita concludes his career as the most decorated player in school history. He has compiled a 61-17 singles record and is ranked 47th nationally by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The Lima, Peru, performer is the reigning CAA Player-of-the-Year.
“Rafa has broken about every record here,” added DuBois “It gives our entire team confidence knowing that he can beat anyone in the country and anytime you have success like that, it’s contagious to everyone else on the team.”
Kealy joined the program four years ago and has been an outstanding teammate and student-athlete for the Seahawks. He is serving as team captain this season.
“Matt has been the heart and soul of our team. His positive attitude, work ethic and love for the team has been infectious. He’s been an excellent leader and the glue that’s kept our team together.”
Mol, meanwhile, is among the schools top doubles players. He ranks in the top-10 in doubles victories and doubles winning percentage and is ranked No. 88 with teammate Kaue Pereira by the ITA this season. Mol and Pereira stand 11-3 in doubles play in 2013-14.
DuBois said: “To be successful in the highest levels of college tennis, you have to move away from the country club mentality that is common in our sport. Pedro is a perfect example of that. He is a tough, smart, independent guy and his character has been a great addition to our team. It has been a pleasure watching him develop.”
The Seahawks bring a six-match winning streak into Friday’s clash with the 49ers. UNCC stands 11-5 following a 4-2 victory at Presbyterian Tuesday. Coach Billy Boykin’s team has won six of its last eight matches heading into the non-conference clash at the UNCW Courts.
UNCC’s doubles team of Jordi Massalle Ferrer and Kamil Khalil has spent time this season in the ITA rankings, posting a12-1 record this season, including 10-1 at No. 2 doubles.
DuBois said the Seahawks are looking forward to playing their final home match before final preparations for the CAA Men’s Tennis Championships.
“We’ve come a long way from where we were in the fall and earlier this spring. I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made in a number of areas and I think we are playing our best tennis of the year. We must understand the intensity and preparation required to be successful at the highest level. We’ll continue to work every day to make sure we’re ready for the CAA Tournament.”