|Seahawks Aim For Fourth CAA Tennis Title|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Continuing a trend that has stretched into six years, the 46th-ranked UNCW men’s tennis team is making plans for an extended stay at this weekend’s Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Tennis Championships in Williamsburg, Va.
The Seahawks, who open defense of their title early Saturday at William & Mary’s Millie West Tennis Facility, closed out the dual match season with seven straight wins and are peaking at the right time. Overall, the team has carved out a 13-6 record against a challenging schedule that’s nine ranked teams.
"I feel very good about our preparation going into the tournament,” said seventh-year UNCW Head Coach Mait DuBois. “We build our training schedule toward playing our best tennis in this part of the year. We scheduled only two matches in the weeks leading up to the tournament and it’s allowed us to make some real strides in a number of areas, especially with our fitness. We have identified a few areas that we know we need to focus on to be successful at the conference tournament and that is where I will be putting all of my energy. "
As the No. 1 seed, UNCW vaults into the semifinals with a first-round bye and faces the James Madison-Drexel winner Saturday at 10 a.m. A win early that day would put the Seahawks, CAA titlists in 2009, 2011 and 2013, into the championship match for the fifth time in the last six years.
Senior Rafael Aita, the reigning CAA Player-of-the-Year and most decorated netter in Seahawk history, plays at the top of the lineup and has won seven of his last 10 matches. He earned an invitation to the NCAA Singles Championships last spring and carries 62-17 career singles record and No. 48 ranking into this weekend’s action.
The Lima, Peru, performer headlines a lineup that features both depth and experience. Fellow senior Pedro Mol, juniors Pedro Mol and Kaue Pereira, and sophomores Santtu Leskinen and Christiaan Van der Burgh give the Seahawks a well-stocked lineup.
DuBois added, "It gives us a lot of confidence to have three seniors who have won two CAA titles and three juniors who have also won. They have been here before and know what it takes to be successful. That being said, every tournament has its different challenges and we know we have to be well prepared. "
In last year’s tournament, the top-seeded Seahawks blanked No. 4 Drexel, 4-0, in the semifinals and downed host William & Mary by an identical score in the championship match behind Tournament Most Outstanding Performer Chris Cooprider.
The UNCW men, who have been ranked as high as No. 44 this spring, stand 71-34 (.676) in singles and 26-19 (.578) in doubles.
"What a great year it’s been for Seahawk tennis,” DuBois said. “I’m so proud of our women’s team for making history with their first regular season title. For both programs to go into the tournament as the No. 1 seed shows how far they have come. The energy around both programs is very special right now and we will be pulling for them every chance that we get."
2014 CAA Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships
April 18-20, 2014 – Millie West Tennis Facility – College of William & Mary – Williamsburg, Va.
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Quarterfinals
9 a.m. - Men - #2 College of Charleston vs. #7 Delaware; #3 William & Mary vs. #6 Hofstra
Noon – Men - #4 James Madison vs. #5 Drexel
3 p.m. – Women - #1 UNCW vs. #8 Hofstra; #4 James Madison vs. #5 Delaware
6 p.m. – Women - #2 College of Charleston vs. #7 Towson; #3 William & Mary vs. #6 Drexel
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Semifinals
10 a.m. – Men - #1 UNCW vs. JMU/Drexel winner; CofC/Delaware winner vs. W&M/Hofstra winner
2 p.m. – Women – UNCW/Hofstra winner vs. JMU/Delaware winner; CofC/Towson winner vs. W&M/Drexel winner
Sunday, April 20, 2014 – Championships
10 a.m. – Men’s Championship
2 p.m. – Women’s Championship