The Winthrop men’s tennis team captured its first Big South Conference Championship title in four years Thursday and earned the automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA tournament with a 4-2 victory over Campbell at Memorial Courts.
The Big South finals were originally slated to be completed at Gardner-Webb but rain forced the match to be moved to Rock Hill since No. 2 Winthrop had the higher seed over No. 4 Campbell. The tournament championship is also the first for Winthrop under coach Andrew Stubbs and the team’s first since 2010. The first round of the NCAA tournament will be held May 9-10 at a site to be announced on Tuesday.
Winthrop won the doubles point, with victories on courts No. 1 and No. 3. Dylan Comerford and Peter Nagovnak topped Fernado Guillen and Adrien Rossignon, 8-5 at the top flight and moments later, Corey Decandia and Juan Pablo Boada secured the point with an 8-4 win at the third flight.
The Eagles extended the lead to 2-0 when Comerford defeated Marthinus Visser, 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2. Campbell tied the match 2-2 following a win on court No. 6 from Rik Van Gerwen, who defeated Michael Chen, 6-2, 6-2 and a win at the top flight from Guillen over Yuta Hirokawa 6-3, 6-2.
Winthrop regained the lead at 3-2 following Tremayne Mitchell’s 7-5, 7-5 win on court No. 4 over Dominik Kaniewski. Boada clinched the match for the Eagles at the fifth flight with a 6-0, 6-7, 6-3 victory over Rossignon.
Winthrop (16-9) is now 6-9 all-time in Big South Men’s Tennis Championship matches. Campbell finished season with a 13-9 record.
“It was an unbelievable effort from both teams,” said Stubbs. “This is the result of day-in and day-out work that we put in and I am excited for the guys. This team has been through a lot and we have totally rebuilt this program thanks to the seniors for their hard work and staying true to what we are trying to do. We played for the chance to represent the conference and our school in the NCAA tournament. We are going to enjoy this and get ready for the first round.”
State Sen. Wes Hayes, one of four legislators who represent York County in the General Assembly, presented coach Kevin Cook, his staff and members of the team with a S.C. Senate Concurrent Resolution during a brief ceremony at the Winthrop Coliseum which included the presence of Winthrop President Jamie Comstock Williamson and athletic director Tom Hickman.
The Winthrop women set a new school record for wins in a season with 24 and a new record for most conference victories with 15.
Winthrop (18-26, 9-9) is trying to snap a five-game losing streak heading into this weekend’s series. The Eagles’ currently sit in second in the Big South South Division and are tied for fifth with VMI in the overall standings.