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The UNCW men’s tennis team hopes to build on last year’s record-setting season when the spring campaign kicks off Sunday with a home match against Appalachian State.
The Seahawks, ranked 44th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll, take on the Mountaineers of the Southern Conference at noon. It’s the first of 20 matches and 11 home dates on the docket for Coach Mait DuBois and his club.
“We’re very excited about starting the spring season,” said DuBois, the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year. “We return four players from last year’s CAA championship team and have a large number of guys competing for every position.
“We have always prided ourselves on our depth and once again we have many players who can play at multiple positions.”
Overall, the veteran UNCW coach welcomes three seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen to his spring roster. Seniors Rafael Aita, Matt Kealy and Pedro Mol will anchor the squad.
The team, which enjoyed its fourth postseason appearance in five seasons last spring, piled up numerous “firsts” one year ago and closed out the campaign ranked 43rd by the ITA. The Seahawks captured their third CAA championship and advanced to the NCAA Regionals in Durham, where the Seahawks stunned No. 17 South Carolina before succumbing to Duke.
Aita and junior Sam Williams are the highest ranked doubles team in the state at No. 15. The tandem punched their ticket to the ITA National Men’s Tennis Indoor Championships in Flushing, N.Y., in the fall by completing an unbeaten run in the ITA Carolina Regional at Cary Tennis Park. The team beat opponents from Elon, Duke, North Carolina, South Carolina and N.C. State en route to the ITA Carolina crown.
Aita and Williams went a perfect 15-0 last year, including 14-0 at the No. 2 position, to earn a final ranking of No. 33.
“We have three seniors and all have played in an NCAA Tournament here,” DuBois noted. “We have an experienced group that has played in and won big matches and that will be important for us moving forward. The key to how successful we can be is our leadership. We must have some players step up and display the kind of character and dedication it takes to be successful at the highest level.”
The Seahawks are ranked in the top-50 at the beginning of the spring campaign for the fourth consecutive year. UNCW was ranked 14 times in the 16 weekly polls last year and soared to as high as No. 37 on Feb. 19, 2013.
Lady Seahawks look to build off success
The UNCW women’s tennis team knocked on the door last spring and hopes to break through it this year as the new season opens Saturday with a 1 p.m. debut against visiting North Carolina A&T.
Coach Evan Clark enters his second season after leading the Seahawks to a 14-7 mark last year and a first-ever appearance in the CAA finals.
The Seahawks and Aggies get underway at 1 p.m. Admission is free.
“We are really excited to get the season kicked off this weekend,” said second-year Head Coach Evan Clark. “Everyone is more comfortable this year. I’m more comfortable with the group, they are more comfortable with me and that makes for a much smoother process. I truly enjoy coming to work with this group each day and am very excited to see what we can accomplish this year.”
The Seahawks won eight of their last 10 matches before falling in the CAA championship match to No. 49 William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. It was a highly successful season by most accounts, but fell short of what Clark wants to see.
“We were obviously extremely disappointed with our result in the CAA Championship last year,” added Clark. “We have a very determined group that is dedicated to working hard for the ultimate goal of winning a title this year. This group has improved tremendously over the summer and fall, and even in the short time this spring so we are confident that we will have a very successful season.”
Five different players on last year’s team earned All-CAA honors, including Angie Sekely, who became just the second player in school history to take home First-Team accolades.
CFCC 104 Denmark 95 (OT)
Osandai Vaughn scored a game-high 30 points to lead Cape Fear Community College past Denmark Tech 104-94 in overtime at the Schwartz Center on Friday night. Anthony Vanhook added 26 points and Demetres Abrams put in 20 to pace the Sea Devils, who moved to 1-1 in conference, 5-1 at home and 8-10 overall.
“We really needed this league win tonight,” said CFCC Coach Ryan Mantlo. “They hit tough shots, but we were able to calm the storm in overtime. Hopefully we can continue to build off a win like this.”
The men’s basketball team and the Cape Fear Community College Athletic Department will honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate the MLK Holiday as they play host to Mount Zion Christian Academy Monday, Jan. 20. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m., at the Schwartz Center on CFCC’s Downtown Campus.
In observance of the holiday, admission will be free.