Both of William & Mary’s tennis teams took titles home from the Colonial Athletic Association championship tournaments last weekend, held on the Williamsburg campus.
The women’s team dominated No. 2 seed College of Charleston, 4-0, to claim the program’s 23rd CAA championship on Sunday afternoon at the Millie West Tennis Facility, and the men’s team claimed a 4-1 victory over the Cougars at the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center. Both teams will advance to the NCAA championships.
A case of déjà vu was in order with the Tribe using the same singles combination of 1-2-4 to win the 2015 crown after using the recipe to garner the title two years ago in Williamsburg. Like she had in the Green and Gold’s previous title run, senior Jeltje Loomans clinched the championship with a victory at No. 2. W&M won its fourth straight match, improving to 16-6, while Charleston closed out the year at 14-13.
The Tribe started their quest for a crown by taking the doubles point, including a third straight clinching match from the top duo of Loomans and junior Leeza Nemchinov. The Green and Gold’s No. 3 pair, junior Julia Casselbury and sophomore Mélanie Roy, started things off right with an early doubles win. The Tribe tandem jumped out to a commanding 4-1 lead and rode it to an 8-3 win over Grace Baker and Sarah Jane Jones. It marked Casselbury and Roy’s sixth win of the year and their third at the No. 3 spot.
At the top pairs spot, Nemchinov and Loomans jumped out to a 5-1 lead over the No. 79-ranked Charleston pair of Jenny Falcone and Katherine Schofield. The Cougars duo would not go quietly, winning three straight games to close within 5-4. W&M squashed the comeback bid, winning three of the final four games to clinch the initial point of the match with an 8-5 win. Nemchinov and Loomans won for the seventh straight time in improving to 24-4 overall and 18-3 at No. 1.
W&M roared out of the gates in singles, winning five of the first six sets and dropping just six total games in those sets. Roy pushed the lead to 2-0 with a straight-sets win at No. 4. She bounced Katherine Schofield, 6-1, 6-2, for her third win in the last four matches and second of the championship. Roy improved to 16-12 overall, including an impressive 9-3 mark at No. 4.
Dominating performances have become the norm for Nemchinov, and she continued her sensational junior campaign with a seventh straight win. She rolled to a 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Samantha Maddox, improving to 5-0 all-time in singles at the CAA championship. Nemchinov ran her season ledger to 27-3 and 19-1 at No. 1.
The deciding match was Loomans, and she finished for the third time in the championship, improving to a perfect 8-0 in her career at the CAA championship. The Tribe senior won four straight games to claim the first set, 6-2, from Charleston’s Brooke McAmis. The Cougars’ player was up a break at 4-3 in the second set, before Loomans ripped off four of the final five games to clinch the championship with a court-splitting smash. The win was her fourth straight as she improved to 23-7 overall and 15-5 at No. 2.
The Tribe will be making their 20th appearance in the NCAA tournament. The NCAA selection show is set for Tuesday, April 28, at 5 p.m., and will be streamed live on NCAA.com.
One year after being eliminated from the CAA tournament by Charleston, the Green and Gold exacted a bit of revenge with the Tribe’s victory over the Cougars.
Senior Will Juggins clinched the team’s first CAA crown since 2005 and fourth all-time with a win at No. 2 singles. W&M improved to 16-12, while the Cougars fell to 15-10.
“This victory was the culmination of a lot of sacrifice from each player and overcoming countless adversity together toward a common goal,” head coach Peter Daub said. “I am so proud of our players and coaches, and incredably appreciative that they allowed me to be part of this special championship ride to NCAAs.”
Leading 3-1 after singles wins from sophomore Damon Niquet (No. 4) and freshman Alec Miller (No. 6), the Tribe needed just one more match to claim the CAA title, and the opportunity fell to Juggins. The four-time All-CAA senior rose to the occasion. He claimed the first set, 6-4, from Rodrigo Encinas, and in the final game of the second set, Juggins broke the two-time all-league pick for a 6-4 win, setting off the Tribe’s championship celebration. Fellow seniors Aaron Chaffee and Zach Braig mobbed Juggins in jubilation and were quickly joined the rest of the Green and Gold. It marked Juggins’ 14th win of the year and 10th in dual-match competition.
The Green and Gold claimed the all-important doubles point in a loud and electric atmosphere to start things off at the Millie West Tennis Facility. The senior duo of Chaffee and Juggins showed that veteran maturity, breaking open a 5-5 match with three straight games to claim the first spot, 8-5, over CofC’s Brice Allanic and Alon Faiman. With the win in a match-up of All-CAA doubles teams, the Tribe tandem improved to 10-5 overall and 8-4 at No. 1.
Leading by a break at both two and three doubles, it was a race to the finish with freshman Christian Cargill and Niquet clinching the point with their third win in as many chances at the CAA championship. The Green and Gold twosome upended Charleston’s Josh Record and Encinas, 8-5, for its fifth straight win. Cargill and Niquet improved to 7-1 on the year with the win over a Charleston duo that entered the match at 11-1.
Midway into the opening set of singles competition, the skies in Williamsburg opened, moving the remainder of the event indoors to the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center. The change in venue did little to halt the Tribe momentum or quell the heightened excitement. Niquet and Miller were the first two finishers indoors; quickly increasing the W&M lead to 3-0.
Niquet played a key roll in singles for the second straight day, pushing the margin to 2-0 with a straight sets win at No. 4. After winning the opening set, 6-4, the Tribe sophomore blitzed the Cougars’ Vasily Kichigan with an unblemished second set, 6-0. Kichigan was one day removed from clinching Charleston’s 4-3 upset of No. 63-ranked and two-time defending CAA champion UNCW. With the win, Niquet improved to 16-9 overall and an impressive 7-1 at No. 4.
Miller made it an individually perfect three-for-three in the CAA championship with his third singles win in as many days. The Tribe rookie rallied from an early break-deficit in both sets. After taking the opening set, 6-4, Miller found himself in a 2-0 hole against Charleston’s Garrett Gordon in the second, before winning six of the final seven games on the way to increasing W&M’s advantage to 3-0. Miller improved his team-best dual-match record to 15-9, while upping his ledger to 18-11 overall.
The men's tennis CAA title, coupled with the women's earlier in the day, brought W&M's overall league title total to six, which equaled the school record set in 1991-92, 2003-04 and 2012-13. The Tribe Athletics 2014-15 season of six CAA titles is one of only five in CAA history.
The Tribe men will be making their 11th appearance in the NCAA Championship. The NCAA selection show is set for Tuesday, April 28, at 5:30 p.m., and will be streamed live on NCAA.com.