2017 NCAA SINGLES CROWN
James Pressley | June 5, 2017
Top Southern teams remain dominant; claim four national titles
Less than a week after helping his team win the 2017 NCAA team championship, Virginia’s Thai-Son Kwiatkowski took down North Carolina’s William Blumberg, 6-4, 7-6(5) to win the 2017 NCAA men’s singles championship.
Kwiatkowski, a native of Charlotte, NC, fell to UNC’s freshman star in their previous two meetings. But, relying on his experience from already making an NCAA semifinal in 2015 and the quarterfinals last year, the Cavalier senior managed to pull out his tenth match in 11 days.
Blumberg, who had gone undefeated in the team and singles championships up to this point, and Kwiatkowski opened the match with an exchange of breaks until Blumberg was broken at 4-4 and the Virginia star served out the set. Kwiatkowski took an early 2-1 lead in the second set until another exchange of breaks eventually led to a tiebreak. ADVERTISEMENT At 5-5 in the tiebreak, Kwiatkowski earned match point with the biggest ace of his career. Blumberg banged a forehand long on the next point, giving Kwiatkowski the title. The Cavalier senior earned a US Open main draw singles wild card.
Georgia’s Loeb and Zielinski fall in doubles championship
Georgia’s Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski fell to Oklahoma's Spencer Papa and Andrew Harris in the finals of the NCAA men’s doubles championship, 4-6, 6-2 [10-6].
Loeb, a freshman from Hilton Head Island, SC, and Zielinski entered the championships as the tournament’s top seeds and made sure the Sooners duo took notice by grabbing the opening set, 6-4. Unable to hold on to their 2-0 lead in the second set, Papa and Harris took the next six games and carried that momentum into the 10-point match tiebreak, eventually silencing the large hometown Bulldog crowd.
The Bulldogs gave Georgia their sixth all-time appearance in the doubles championship match. Loeb and Zielinski first cracked the top-10 of the doubles rankings in March before becoming the No. 1 pair in the country.
Grizzlies win fourth consecutive title in repeat of 2016 national title match
Squaring off against Xavier University of Louisiana for the second straight year, the Georgia Gwinnett Grizzles captured their fourth consecutive NAIA men’s championship with a 5-0 victory over the Gold Rush.
The Grizzlies, who entered the championship match 15-0 in tournament history, wrapped up their doubles sweep as the No. 2 senior doubles duo of Connor Clements, of Charleston, SC, and Jordan Cox, led the way with an 8-4 win over Xavier’s Pierre Andrieu and Catalin Fifea.
Claiming the next three singles points, the Grizzlies wrapped up their 2017 season with a perfect 23-0 record and the fourth most wins all-time in NAIA championship tournament history (16). Georgia Gwinnett ‘s four championships are now second all-time in NAIA history behind Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.), who holds six.
Georgia Gwinnett head coach Chase Hodges was named the NAIA men's tennis Coach of the Year for the fourth year in a row.
Lady Grizzlies remain on top of NAIA after third national title win
Looking to repeat their 2016 nail-biting 5-4 finals win over Lindsey Wilson, the Lady Grizzlies of Georgia Gwinnett earned their third national title in four seasons with a 5-3 defeat over the Blue Raiders.
Freshman Emerald Able, of Memphis, TN, showed up big for the Lady Grizzlies as she and doubles partner, Margarida Abreu, secured the doubles victory at the No. 3 spot with an 8-5 win over Lindsey Wilson’s Alexandra Shchipakina and Natalia Kattah Paz. Able, who received an honorable mention on this year's NAIA All-American team, continued her dominance with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Paz, ranked No. 20 in the nation.
The victory capped the Lady Grizzlies’ first-ever undefeated season, going 26-0 and 15-0 record against nationally-ranked opponents. Georgia Gwinnett went through the beginning of the 2016-17 season to end as the NAIA's No. 1 ranked program. Head Coach Chase Hodges, who was named the South Region's Coach of the Year, was also named the Wilson/ITA Women's Tennis Coach of the Year for the first time in his career.
Emory men wins first title in five years
With a 5-2 victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, the Emory Eagles claimed their fourth NCAA Division III men’s team title, the first since 2012.
The Eagles stormed out to a quick 3-0 lead after sweeping the doubles portion of the match. After the Stags of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps struck first in singles, earning a win at the No. 6 singles spot, Emory’s Jonathan Jemison, of Marietta, GA, gave the Eagles the slight edge of a 4-1 lead after his 7-6, 6-2 win over CMS’ Glenn Hull. The win was the sophomore’s ninth straight; capping his overall singles record for the season at 26-5. After a third-set win at No. 3 singles, Emory manages to win their 14th straight match and closed out their season at 22-4.
Lady Eagles reach final but fail to defend title
The No. 3 ranked Emory University women's tennis team saw its quest to repeat as national champions denied as the Lady Eagles fell to No. 4-ranked Williams College, 5-4, in the NCAA Division III championship.
In a repeat of the 2016 title match, both schools fought for over four-and-a-half hours until the match was decided at the No. 2 singles spot. Lady Eagles senior Katatina Su, of Alpharetta, GA, paved the way for Emory’s hard-fought stance with a come-from-behind win at No. 1 doubles against the Ephs' Juli Raventos and Linda Shin, of Johns Creek, GA, 9-7 to send Emory into singles action down by a point.
After trading wins in singles play, Williams finally saw victory as Leah Bush defeated Emory’s Michelle Satterfield 7-6(4), 6-2. Emory concluded their season with a 17-7 overall record.
Oxford-Emory completes three-peat
For the third straight year, Oxford College of Emory University claimed the 2017 NJCAA Division III men’s championship.
Oxford tallied 27.5 points to win the title, just nudging by Brookdale (NJ) who accumulated 26 points in the tournament. Freshman Guillermo Cabral notched the Division III singles championship for the Eagles while fellow first-year teammates Henry Hua and Anuraaj Sonawala placed third in the doubles championship. With the win, Oxford now has six national championships (2006-07, 2009, 2015-17).