By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
MOBILE, Ala. — (Results | Bracket) Defending national champion and 15-time national championship qualifier Embry-Riddle (Fla.) will meet first-time attendee Georgia Gwinnett in the 2014 NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championship final at 1:00 p.m. CDT Saturday, after both squads earned 5-1 victories in Friday afternoon’s semifinals. The programs’ women’s teams will compete for the 2014 NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship at 9:00 a.m. Saturday.
The top-seeded Eagles grabbed a 2-1 lead over No. 4-seed Vanguard (Calif.) in doubles play, with wins by Deni Zmak and Simon Felix at No. 1 (8-5) and Patrick Besch and Jaime Sanchez-Canamares Rios at No. 2 (8-3). The Vanguard duo of Filip Burnac and Daymon Johnson earned the Lions lone point with an 8-4 victory at No. 3 doubles.
In singles, Besch (6-4, 6-2), Felix (6-3, 6-4) and Luke de Caires (6-2, 6-2) sealed the match for the Eagles with wins at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5, respectively. With the win, Embry-Riddle remains undefeated in NAIA play this season and earns the right to defend its national title in the national championship final. The loss is the first of the season for No. 4-seed Vanguard in NAIA competition.
Like Embry-Riddle, No. 3-seeded Georgia Gwinnett carried a 2-1 lead into singles play, with wins by Mark Verryth and Bruno Tiberti (8-3) at No. 2 and Connor Clements and Matias Hatem at No. 3 (8-2). Zinelabidine Jouini and Othmane Lalami captured the only point for Auburn Montgomery at No. 1 doubles (8-4).
Georgia Gwinnett secured singles wins from Verryth at No. 1 (6-1, 6-3), Tiberti at No. 2 (6-2, 6-2) and Hatem at No. 3 (6-0, 6-2) to advance to the national championship final in its first-ever national championship appearance. For the Warhawks of Auburn Montgomery, the loss is the first of the year to an NAIA opponent.
Embry-Riddle is looking to become the first back-to-back national champion since Auburn Montgomery won three-straight titles from 2006-2008. Georgia Gwinnett is searching for its first national title in its first year of postseason eligibility.
Embry-Riddle is 30-13 in the national championship and 21-3 on the season, while Georgia Gwinnett is 3-0 in the national championship and 20-0 this year. Neither the Eagles nor the Grizzlies have lost to an NAIA opponent this season.
NeuLion, the official video streaming company of select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the national championship match from Mobile on Saturday, May 17. For more information on the free live video stream and to pre-register, click here.