By: Mike DeVader, NAIA Communications & Sports Information Intern
MOBILE, Ala. — (Results | Bracket | Video) Georgia Gwinnett has done it again. The defending national champion Grizzlies bested multiple weather delays before even lining up against Embry-Riddle (Fla.) on Sunday morning in the 2015 NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championship final, but the top-team got refocused and claimed its second red banner in as many years against the Eagles, 5-0.
The two teams squared off once more for all the marbles, as they did a season ago in the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala. Last year, the Grizzles held off the Eagles, 5-1, but this time around Georgia Gwinnett blanked Embry-Riddle in the rematch en route to the title.
With today’s win, Georgia Gwinnett finished the championship by blanking all four of its opponents, and becomes the first school since Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) to win back-to-back crowns. The Warhawks won three-consecutive titles from 2006-08.
In doubles action, the duo of Lachlan McPhee and Luke Morlan took down Rudolfo Arreygue and Miguel Lopez Gomez, 8-2, and got the No-1 seed off on the right track. The other two matches went the way of the Grizzlies as well, as No. 1 doubles was earned, 8-6, by Jordan Cox and Kevin Konfederak. Georgia Gwinnett put the clamps on the doubles competition after Matias Hatem and Connor Clements knocked out Fabian Zierlyn and Carlos Becke of the Eagles, 8-4, to take all the momentum into singles.
In one-on-one tennis, Clements made quick work of Becke in No. 4 singles, winning, 6-2, 6-2, and putting Embry-Riddle on the brink of elimination. The Eagles tried their best to get back into the match, but the Grizzlies proved to be too strong at nearly every level. Before Embry-Riddle could claim a point to get back into the match, No. 3 singles man Matia Hatem took down Zierlyn, 6-1, 6-3, officially cementing the Grizzlies as national champions of the 2014-15 season.
The season for Embry-Riddle comes to a close at 21-4, but the year did not end without a fight. As the Grizzlies clinched the match and the red banner once again, Deni Zmak and Rodolfo Arreygue were playing good tennis and leading Cox and Morlan in their respective matches in the No. 1 and No. 6 slot.
With today’s triumph, the Grizzlies (16-2) are 4-0 in this year’s national championship. They also did not lose one match to an NAIA foe this year, falling to only NCAA Division II Barry (Fla.) and Hawaii Pacific. In their back-to-back titles, Georgia Gwinnett has racked up an 8-0 record in the last two championships in Mobile.
The Eagles end their run one step short and now hold a 33-15 record all-time in the national championship.