Sunday, May 22, 2016

Despite strong start, XULA Rush finish as NAIA runner-up

MOBILE, Alabama — Xavier University of Louisiana men's tennis built an early lead Saturday before losing 5-2 to Georgia Gwinnett in the final of the NAIA National Championship.
The Gold Rush (17-8), ranked and seeded third, finished as national runner-up. This was the first XU team in any sport to reach an NAIA final.
The Grizzlies (26-0), a unanimous No. 1 in every coaches poll this season, won their third consecutive NAIA championship and stretched their winning streak to 32. They were 2-0 this season against Xavier.
Xavier won 2-of-3 doubles. Tushar Mandlekar and Adam Albrecht of the Gold Rush defeated Gilad Berman and Lachlan McPhee 8-5 on the third court, then Xavier took a 2-0 lead when Kyle Montrel and Karan Salwan won 8-3 on court two against Matias Hatem and Connor Clements, the ITA's third-ranked NAIA doubles team.
But Xavier missed a doubles sweep by losing in a tiebreaker on the first court for the second straight day. Thomas Setodji and Kevin Chaouat led 6-4 and 7-6 against the nationally top-ranked tandem of Kevin Konfederak and Jordan Cox, but Konfederak and Cox rallied for a 9-8 (7-3) decision.
"We had a realy good start in doubles," Xavier coach Alan Green said. "It would've been nice to have a 3-0 lead, and we had some good opportunities to get that third point, but we didn't. Still we were happy with a 2-1 lead. It was a reversal from the last time we played Georgia Gwinnett."
Georgia Gwinnett then won four consecutive times in singles and led in the two unfinished matches. Berman beat Chaouat 6-1, 6-0, Konfederak — the NAIA's No. 1 singles player — defeated Salwan 6-2, 6-4, Clements beat Albrecht 6-0, 6-4 and Hatem clinched with. 6-2, 6-2 decision against Montrel.
"Overall, Georgia Gwinnett's guys took it to us," Green said. "At times it seemed like there was nothing we could do to stop them."
The Setodji-Cox match did not result in a decision — Cox led 7-6 (7-0), 2-0 — so Setodji, a freshman, ended the season with a 17-0 singles record.
"Xavier was outstanding," Georgia Gwinnett coach Chase Hodges said. "We were fortunate."
It was the final XU competition for Montrel and Chaouat, both seniors. A third senior,Manav Chakma, did not play.
"Even though we didn't get the win, it just felt like we won in some way," Montrel said. "We became a closer team. Next time I think we could get it."
The appearance at nationals was the eighth overall and eighth in a row for the XU men. They reached the quarterfinals each of the previous four seasons before breaking through with a quarterfinal victory Thursday against sixth-ranked Keiser and a semifinal victory Friday against seventh-ranked Lindsey Wilson. Xavier's 17 victories match the second-most in a season during Green's coaching tenure.
Xavier men's tennis
XU-produced graphic which promoted the Gold Rush appearance in the NAIA championship final.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

No comments: