By Nikki Sherrill, Athletic Communications and Media Intern
MOBILE, Ala. – (Bracket) (Video Recap) (Schedule & Results) After battling through the 2017 field at the NAIA Men's Tennis National Championship, the title match will pit last season's finalists once again against each other. No. 1 Georgia Gwinnett and No. 2 Xavier (La.) both fought off their opponents to punch their tickets once again to Saturday. With the wins, the two will face off at 9 a.m. CDT tomorrow morning. For the fourth-straight year, the event is being hosted at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala.
No. 1 Georgia Gwinnett once again earned a 5-0 win in the semifinals against No. 5 Campbellsville (Ky.). The Grizzlies picked up three quick wins in doubles and followed those up with two singles victories to advance for the fourth-straight season to the title match. Georgia Gwinnett is aiming to win its fourth-consecutive men's tennis national championship tomorrow. On the day, the Grizzlies were led once again by Kevin Konfederak who earned a 6-2, 6-0 singles win as well as a doubles win with partner Gilad Berman in the semifinals. Georgia Gwinnett remains perfect on the season heading into Saturday. Campbellsville, who was only in its second-ever appearance to the event, ends the season with a 22-4 overall record.
“It's really important to get those quick matches and get off the court in an hour and a half, it puts you in a position heading into the final where you are going to be extremely rested and our guys are going to be ready to go tomorrow,” said Georgia Gwinnett head coach Chase Hodges. “We are going to be bringing it and hopefully bringing our best performance into the final.”
For No. 2 Xavier, it was not able to catch the sweep but still captured a ticket to the title match. After going up 3-0 in doubles play, the Gold Rush looked to get two quick single wins. No. 3 Keiser (Fla.) had other plans, however, as it earned one singles victory from Tushar Mandlekar to cut into the Gold Rush lead at 3-1. Xavier then picked up two singles wins of its own to seal the 5-1 victory and advance into Saturday for the rematch against Georgia Gwinnett. Keiser ends the season with a 21-5 overall record after falling in the national semifinal match.
“Today was tough; this was the toughest 5-1 match I have ever been involved in,” said Xavier head coach Alan Green.”It got started off with some pretty hot doubles and those three courts all three could have went to other way. Fortunately for us, we came out on top in all three of those and that helped give us a lot of momentum for us going to singles. We just needed two wins to get the job done and we did.”
The championship match is slated for a 9 a.m. CDT start time Saturday morning.
For more information on the 2017 NAIA Men's Tennis National Championship, click here.