UNCW Upsets #18 USC In NCAA Men's Tennis Opener
DURHAM, North Carolina – Go right ahead and check off another milestone for UNCW’s red-hot men’s tennis team.
The No. 53 Seahawks added another entry to their tennis hopper full of “firsts” early Friday with an impressive 4-0 upset of No. 18 South Carolina in the opening match of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Duke Regional at the sun-splashed Ambler Tennis Center.
The shutout gave the Seahawks their first NCAA tourney win and vaulted them into tomorrow’s regional final against the No. 9 Blue Devils, with the winner advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in Urbana, Ill. Duke pounded Coastal Carolina, 4-0, in the afternoon match at the courts.
“It’s a big win for us in so many ways,” said a smiling UNCW Head Coach Mait DuBois, the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Coach-of-the-Year. “We’ve knocked on the door so many times. We have a lot of respect for South Carolina and to beat a team that we have so much respect for makes it special.
“We’ve been talking about the importance of having every person on every court show up and then good things will happen. And today we had it.”
The Seahawks, who dropped a 4-3 decision to the Gamecocks back on Feb. 20 in Columbia, S.C., set the tone early this time by dominating doubles play. It was UNCW’s first win over USC in four career tries.
The No. 1 team of Kosta Blank and Chris Cooprider, ranked 30th by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, breezed past No. 17 Tsvetan Mihov and Chip Cox, 8-2, and the No. 2 tandem of Raphael Aita and Sam Williams, rated 52nd, clinched the critical point with an identical romp over No. 39 Kyle Koch and Harry Menzies.
“We haven’t lost a lot of doubles points this year and South Carolina won the point in our match in February, so I think our guys wanted to make a statement,” DuBois said.
When singles action started, Aita, the 2013 CAA Player-of-the-Year, gave the Seahawks a 2-0 lead by beating Mihov in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6 (4), at the top of the lineup to keep the momentum going. Sophomore Zach Hublitz extended the lead to 3-0 by downing Menzies, 6-3, 6-4, at the No. 6 spot.
Cooprider then delivered the clincher by surprising No. 81 Andrew Adams, 7-5, 6-4, at No. 2 to keep the Seahawks alive in the postseason affair. It was UNCW's 11th consecutive win of the season.
DuBois said, “We’re going to enjoy this for a little while and then start thinking about tomorrow. It’s been six years of work and we’ve some guys put a lot of work into it, so we want to enjoy the moment.”
UNCW is making its fourth NCAA appearance in five seasons after capturing its third CAA championship two weeks ago in Williamsburg, Va.