|Seahawks Clinch No. 1 Seed In CAA Tennis|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – The red-hot UNCW women’s tennis team closed out a perfect dual match season in the Colonial Athletic Association by swamping visiting James Madison, 6-1, in the home finale for the Seahawks early Sunday at the UNCW courts.
The surging Seahawks pushed their record to 14-3 overall and 4-0 in the CAA heading into the regular season finale next weekend at Charleston Southern. The Dukes stand 14-8 and 3-2.
“It was another hard-fought CAA match,” said Evan Clark, UNCW’s second-year coach. “Give credit to JMU. They competed very well at each spot and never went away. JMU is a very tough team from top to bottom and I’m very happy we were able to come out with a 6-1 win today.”
UNCW, which has won nine consecutive matches, will the top seed in the CAA Women’s Tennis Championships, which runs April 17-20 in Williamsburg, Va. The Seahawks have defeated Towson, Delaware, College of Charleston and James Madison over the last 15 days.
With three seniors – Olga Blank, Kelly Cameron and Angie Sekely – making their final home appearance, the Seahawks dominated the Dukes from the start, capturing the doubles point and then taking all but one singles match.
The No. 3 doubles team of senior Kelly Cameron and junior Miller Hales began doubles play by claiming their 10th straight match without a loss by edging Rachel Nelson and Cara Wirth, 8-6. The No. 2 tandem of Angie Sekely and Alyssa Ritchie then wrapped up the early point with an 8-3 decision over JMU’s Jacqueline Palmucci and Ruxandra Andriescu.
It marked the 14th time in 17 matches that the Seahawks have taken the all-important doubles point. “Doubles was very important for us today because we knew JMU would be tough in doubles,” added Clark. “I was extremely pleased with the way we came out of the gate and set the tone in doubles.”
In singles, the Seahawks posted victories at No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 1 - in that order - to send the seniors out on a winning note.
Newcomer Annika Sillanpaa increased the score to 2-0 by outlasting Nelson, 6-2, 1-6, 6-0, at No. 3 singles and after JMU’s Alex Huie defeated Blank at the No. 2 position, Ritchie blew past Emily Bradshaw, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 4 singles and Christine Kharkevitch topped Palmucci, 7-5, 6-3, at the No. 5 position.
Sekely, UNCW’s top player, continued her spectacular season by turning back JMU’s Taylor Pinchoff, 6-3, 3-6, 1-0 (10-7) in a thriller on Court 1. It was Sekely’s 11th straight victory and bumped her season record to 15-1.
“I thought we competed very well top to bottom in singles,” Clark said. “We have to manage the ups and downs better, but overall I could not be more pleased. We are playing with a lot of confidence and it has been very fun seeing the process to get to this point.”
Clark and the Seahawks travel down to Charleston on Saturday for a Noon match with the Buccaneers before seeking the school’s first NCAA women’s tennis berth at the CAA Championships.
“Today was a very emotional day for our team and our three seniors. I thought everyone handled it very well; it’s not easy competing during an emotional time. Angie, Olga, and Kelly have meant so much to this program and it will be impossible to replace this senior class. They are such good people, good students, hard workers, and team players. They have made my job very easy the last two years and I’m very grateful for their hard work and dedication to our program. They know today is not the end of the season and they have more to accomplish before they leave.
“This weekend was very big for us. Beating the College of Charleston and JMU and finishing the CAA regular season at 4-0 is a great feeling. Our players put in the hard work every day and go out and compete. They deserve all the credit. This is a very special group and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. We’re extremely pleased, but we know that we have to continue to work to accomplish our goals for this season. Like we have done all year, we will continue to take one match at a time.”