The Winthrop men’s tennis team reclaimed their Big South tournament championship with a 4-2 victory over Campbell in the finals Tuesday afternoon at the Asheville Racquet Club.
The Eagles were able to rally after dropping the first doubles match to win the doubles competition and seize the early 1-0 lead. At the No. 3 doubles slot Michael Chen and Joshua Ryan fell 8-7 (3) to Steven Billington and Nicolas Rakitin. No. 1 combo of Dylan Comerford and Peter Nagovnak topped Adrien Rossignon and Marthinus Visser 8-7 (3). Winthrop’s No. 2 pairing of Steven Patrick and Tremayne Mitchell were able to overcome a hard fought tiebreak over Jonathan O’Neal and Lukas Schaefer 8-7 (10-7).
Winthrop found itself in a tough battle in the singles competition with all but one match going three sets. No. 6 Chen fell to Visser 6-1, 6-3. No. 2 Comerford bested Schaefer 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. At the No. 3 position Patrick let his match slip to Rakitin 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. With the match tied 2-2 the Eagles were able to win the next two singles spots to clinch the championship. No. 1 Mitchell edged Billington 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. No. 5 Ruben Franzanti took the match for Winthrop with his thrilling 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-1) win over O’Neal. The No. 4 position was left unfinished.
Winthrop (15-8) earns the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and their seventh league title with this triumph.
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Winthrop 17, Liberty 6: Junior Shannon Gallagher tallied seven goals and one assist as Winthrop clinched at least a share of the regular season title, the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament and hosting rights throughout.
Winthrop improved to 14-2 overall and 6-0 in the conference, winning its seventh straight game. Liberty fell to 7-9 overall and 5-1 in the Big South.
Gallagher totaled her seven goals on eight shots, went 3-for-3 on free-position attempts and forced six turnovers. Freshman Kristen Shriver finished with five assists while junior Abigail Blevins and Logan McCarthy each tallied three goals.
Freshman Alaina Girani had yet another impressive performance in goal, totaling 13 saves while allowing only the six goals while also picking up three ground balls. Freshman Katherine Judge finished with eight draw controls and two ground balls.
The Eagles will close out the regular season on Friday at High Point at 6 p.m. A victory for Winthrop will give the Eagles the outright regular season title.
Eagles earn coach, player of year: Winthrop coach Kevin Pendley and sophomore Zach Seabolt received the Big South’s Coach of the Year and Player of the Year awards following the conclusion of the 2015 Big South Men’s Golf Championship at The Patriot at Grand Harbor.
The Eagles team, however, was third out of 10 schools after entering the 54-hole event as the No. 1 seed. Winthrop finished with a score of 861 (287-286-288) to finish behind conference champion Charleston Southern (853) and second place Campbell (859). Coastal Carolina (864), which entered the final day of play with a five-shot lead after 36 holes, fell to fourth.
For Pendley, the Coach of the Year honor was his second in three years, but winning Winthrop’s first men’s Big South golf title eluded the former Big South Player of the Year.
Seabolt was the unanimous selection in the vote by the league’s head coaches. He continues to receive recognition after being voted the 2014 Big South Rookie of the Year and earning an invitation to last year’s NCAA Regional in Raleigh, N.C.
Winthrop junior Nick Eberhardt (Fort Mill) earned a spot on the Big South All-Academic Team.
Winthrop 8, Presbyterian 7: Senior Kristy Noble’s two-run walk-off single capped a six-run seventh for Winthrop at Terry Field.
Noble ripped a 2-2 pitch up the middle with runners on second and third to cap off the rally as Kim Ryder scored easily from third and Leah Young slide home safely. The win moves the Eagles to 21-23 overall and 10-9 in the Big South as they take the regular season series 2-1 against the Blue Hose, who fall to 20-18 overall and 9-7 in the league.
The Eagles look for their third straight win Wednesday at 4 p.m. when they host Gardner-Webb.