For the fourth year in a row, the top-ranked Georgia Gwinnett men's tennis team sits on top of the NAIA men's tennis mountain as the Grizzlies defeated Xavier (La.) 5-0 to claim the program's fourth red banner in four years.
After cruising through the NAIA tournament, winning all matches four of their matches in 5-0 results, the Grizzlies finish 2017 with a perfect 23-0 record. This is the second season in a row where the Grizzlies have gone undefeated as GGC post a 26-0 mark in 2016.
With Saturday's win, Georgia Gwinnett has now won 55 straight matches dating back to the 2015 season.
Georgia Gwinnett entered NAIA postseason eligibility in 2014 and has claimed the men's title all four years since then.
"Today really has not sunk in yet, and I am just overwhelmed with joy and excitement for what our guys have done here in Mobile," said GGC head coach Chase Hodges. "To win one championship, let alone four in a row, is an extremely tough feat to accomplish. It is incredible, and I do not think others outside our program really understand how difficult it is to be on top and to stay on top year in and year out as a marked squad. We really have established a dynasty here at GGC. We have always conducted our business in a first-class manner, and Xavier showed the same respect to us today as well. They are a solid squad and hats off to their effort this season."
The Grizzlies started off the match claiming all three doubles matches (8-4, 8-4, 8-4) and finished off the contest by winning points at No. 5 (6-2, 6-0) and No. 6 (6-0, 6-4) singles.
First, the NAIA's top-ranked doubles pair of Kevin Konfederak & Gilad Berman made it 1-0 with an 8-4 showing against sixth-ranked Antoine Richard & Moses Michael. Just moments later, 17th-ranked Federico Herrera Duran & Rafael Coutinho pulled out the 8-4 win at No. 3, downing the 18th-ranked pair of Karan Salwan & Tushar Mandlekar.
The Grizzlies wrapped up the doubles sweep at No. 2 as the senior duo of Jordan Cox & Connor Clements posted an 8-4 win against Pierre Andrieu & Catalin Fifea.
In singles, No. 47 Coutinho inched the Grizzlies one point closer to the championship with a 6-0, 6-4 win against Adam Albrecht. Five minutes later, Herrera Duran clinched the Grizzlies' fourth NAIA title in a row with a 6-2, 6-0 victory at No. 5 over Xavier's Mandlekar.
The celebration then ensued at court five where the Grizzlies stormed the court and dogpiled Herrera Duran with chants of joy and victory.
Hodges continued, "I think our future is bright after watching Rafael and Federico pull out the fourth and fifth wins to clinch our fourth title. Our two seniors, Connor and Jordan, end their GGC careers as some of the most accomplished and decorated student-athletes in Georgia Gwinnett history. I cannot thank them enough for their leadership, example, service, and passion they have provided our program over the last four years and helping us build the foundation of what our program is and where it will go in the future."
For his individual efforts throughout the tournament, Cox received the Ward-Ballinger Most Outstanding Player Award while Hodges was tabbed as the NAIA's Men's Tennis Coach of the Year for the fourth year in a row.
Georgia Gwinnett, now 16-0 at the championship tournament, holds the fourth most wins all-time in NAIA championship tournament history. The Grizzles' four championships are the second most all-time behind Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.) which holds six national titles.
Of note, Clements ends his GGC career as the only Grizzly to ever win four national titles, one in each season.
The complete 2017 NAIA Men's Tennis National Championship bracket can be accessed by clicking here.
#1 Georgia Gwinnett 5 - #2 Xavier (La.) 0
1. #1 Kevin Konfederak (GGC) vs. #4 Antoine Richard (XU) 6-2, 5-5, unfinished
2. #2 Jordan Cox (GGC) vs. #19 Moses Micheal (XU) 6-7, 1-0, unfinished
3. #10 Gilad Berman (GGC) vs. #21 Karan Salwan (XU) 6-4, 4-2, unfinished
4. #32 Connor Clements (GGC) vs. #34 Catalin Fifea (XU) 3-6, 2-4, unfinished
5. Federico Herrera Duran (GGC) def. Tushar Mandlekar (XU) 6-2, 6-0
6. #47 Rafael Coutinho (GGC) def. Adam Albrecht (XU) 6-0, 6-4
1. #1 Kevin Konfederak/Gilad Berman (GGC) def. #6 Antoine Richard/Moses Micheal (XU) 8-4
2. #7 Jordan Cox/Connor Clements (GGC) def. #21 Pierre Andrieu/Catalin Fifea (XU) 8-4
3. #17 Federico Duran/Rafael Coutinho (GGC) def. #18 Karan Salwan/Tushar Mandlekar (XU) 8-4
Order of Finish
Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (6,5)
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