College of Charleston Menís Tennis Wins CAA Championship
ELON, N.C. – The College of Charleston men’s tennis team rallied back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat No. 1 seed UNCW, 4-3, en route to capturing its first Colonial Athletic Association Championship title on Sunday.
With the win, the Cougars have earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional tournament, the first round of the NCAA tournament. They will find out the location and tournament dates in the coming weeks.
“I am extremely proud, and excited for our guys.” Head coach Jay Bruner said. “They fought just like they have all season. They continued to get better and better as the season went on and they earned this win today against a very good [UNCW] team.”
This is the third consecutive season that Charleston (19-6) had made it to the CAA Championship final round, and the first time that they won it all. With the match tied at 3-3, CofC’s Juan Estevarena secured the clinching point, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, over the CAA Men’s Tennis Player of the Year, Santtu Leskinen to bring home the championship for the Cougars. CofC has faced five nationally-ranked team before playing the No. 67 ranked Seahawks, and secured its first win against such opposition at the perfect time.
The match got off to an exciting start as the doubles point was decided by a tiebreaker. UNCW’s Santtu Leskinen and Taylor Cramer defeated Josh Record and Vasily Kichigin, 6-3, at No. 2, but The College responded with a 6-4 victory at No. 1 by Juan Estevarena and Rodrigo Encinas over Christiaan Van der Burgh and Avi Ben Shabat. In a back-and-forth battle at No. 3, the Seahawks’ Agustin Savarino and Josh Hublitz were able to get past Charlie Ghriskey and Zack Lewis, 7-6 (7-2) to give UNCW the early lead.
The Cougars rebounded quickly in singles play, as Zack Lewis evened the match with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Shabat at No. 4. Andres Torres put UNCW back on top with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kichigin at No. 5, but CofC took the next two contests to regain the lead. At No. 3, the Cougars’ Ghriskey defeated Agustin Savarino, 6-2, 6-2, and Garrett Gordon had a 6-3, 7-5 triumph for Charleston over Hublitz at No. 6.
The match came down to a pair of three-set battles at the top two positions. UNCW’s Van der Burgh outlasted Encinas, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 at No. 2 to tie the contest at 3-3. The championship was then decided on Court 1, where Estevarena rallied from a set down to knock off Leskinen, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to give the Cougars the victory.
2016 CAA MEN’S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP – Finals
Jimmy Powell Tennis Center – Elon, N.C.
#2 College of Charleston 4, #1 UNCW 3
#1 Juan Estevarena (CofC) d. Santtu Leskinen (UNCW), 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
#2 Christiaan Van der Burgh (UNCW) d. Rodrigo Encinas (CofC), 7-5, 4-6, 6-2
#3 Charlie Ghriskey (CofC) d. Agustin Savarino (UNCW), 6-2, 6-2
#6 Garrett Gordon (CofC) d. Josh Hublitz (UNCW), 6-3, 7-5
Order of Finish: 4, 5, 3, 6, 2, 1
#1 Estevarena/Encinas (CofC) d. Van der Burgh/Shabat (UNCW), 6-4
#2 Leskinen/Taylor Cramer (UNCW) d. Josh Record/Kichigin (CofC), 6-3
#3 Savarino/Hublitz (UNCW) d. Ghriskey/Lewis (CofC), 7-6 (7-2)
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3