CHARLOTTE, NC – The Shaw Bears and Lady Bears claimed both the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Men’s and Women’s Championships in dramatic fashion after a grueling day of competition at the 2015 CIAA Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships. After cruising to early wins in semifinals play earlier in the day, the Bears and Lady Bears both had to step up to upset the top-seeded Chowan Hawks and Lady Hawks.
The Lady Bears took home the championship after taking a 5-3 win over the CIAA Northern Division champion and top-seeded Lady Hawks while the men’s championship match went down to the wire with Shaw taking a clutch 5-4 win.
The Bears and Lady Bears had to overcome a pair of steep obstacles to take home the championships as both teams had just five players on their rosters and were hampered by forfeit losses at #3 doubles and #6 singles.
“I’ve been struggling all season long with my five players and for us to win here is just really, really special,” Shaw men’s and women’s tennis head coach Sunday Enitan said following the win. “We just had to focus on what we had to do. We had to win two doubles and if we could do that, then I knew that we could win.”
In addition to overcoming a short-handed roster, the Bears and Lady Bears had to defeat a Chowan team that handed them a pair of losses earlier this season.
The women’s match was a thrilling affair with Shaw taking a 5-3 win. The Lady Bears kicked things off with a win an 8-3 win at #1 singles, followed by an 8-5 win at #2 doubles. With the forfeit loss at #3 doubles and #6 singles, the score stood tied, 2-2. From there, the Lady Bears fell behind once again when Chowan took a 6-1, 6-0 win at #5 singles to put the Lady Bears behind 3-2. However, Shaw took a 6-3, 6-1 win at #3 singles, followed by a 6-2, 6-2 win at #4 singles that put them back on top 4-2. The final point was scored at #2 singles when senior Jessica Medina took a 7-5, 6-4 win at #2 singles to seal the championship victory.
While the women’s championship match was a thrilling affair, it turned out to be an exciting preamble to a classic men’s championship match. Once again, the short-handed Bears opened the match with a forfeit loss at #3 doubles and at #6 singles. However, the team tied the match with a pair of doubles wins. The Bears took an 8-2 win at #2 doubles to kick things off and then followed the effort with an 8-5 win at #1 doubles. The Bears struck first with a 6-0, 6-3 win at #3 singles that put the team on top, 3-2. From there, the Hawks struck with a 6-4, 6-0 win at #1 singles to tie the match 3-3. Things got interesting when a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 win at #5 singles, but Chowan answered with a 6-4, 6-3 win at #2 singles and tied the score, 4-4, and set the stage for a thrilling end. With the conference championship on the line, Shaw’s Juan Sanchez took a 7-5, 6-3 win at #4 singles to take the win. For his efforts, Sanchez was honored as the tournament MVP.
The two team’s thrilling wins were made even more exciting by the fact that the championship matches were the second of the day for both teams. The Bears advanced to the championship match by virtue of 5-2 win over Virginia State while the Lady Bears advanced to the championship match after taking a 5-3 win over Virginia State.
With the wins, the two teams claim the 2015 CIAA Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships and will await selection to the 2015 NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournaments.