With adversity constantly knocking at the door, the North Greenville University tennis teams made the long trip to Marion, Indiana for the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCCAA) National Championship Tournament and came away with surprising results.
Coach Mark Elliot’s men’s squad, which had to win a play-in match against Emmanuel College on May 1 to get into the nationals (they won 9-0), came through all sorts of difficulties, but held on to take 3rd place. The men had numerous injuries to key players all season long and struggled to win close matches against top-ranked squads. However, the senior dominated Crusaders’ experience in the national spotlight paid off. The Crusaders opened the tournament with a 5-2 victory over 15th ranked NAIA team Campbellsville (KY).
The Crusaders then had the toughest challenge of the season as they squared off against the host school Indiana Wesleyan, in the second match of Pool A action. Facing a vociferous home crowd and their second match in three hours, NGU’s doubles teams of Tima Kamilov/Gabriel Altmayer and William Ho/Guilherme Vasques took two points to give NGU a big lead in the match. The top three singles players in Kamilov, Altmayer and Ho then clinched the match with victories for a 5-3 win.
The win over IWU clinched the pool for the Crusaders, guaranteeing them a spot in the semi-finals. So, the exhausted men got a little coaching magic from Elliot. With the pool in hand, he defaulted the final pool play match to Bethel Bible College.
In the national semi’s, the Crusaders had no strong answer for #1 seed Palm Beach Atlantic and went down 5-0. Elliot cited the play of Jacob Rogers and Tomas Clack as being instrumental in getting the most successful athletic team in NGU history back to the NCCAA nationals once again. “Tima had a very good tournament and I thought Tomas Clack stepped up and played big when he needed to,” Elliot said. “Our doubles teams did a solid job getting us key points in pool play, and I must say, that for all the years I’ve been coach at NGU, this was some of the best quality tennis I’ve seen. The teams in the NCCAA have really improved.”
The NGU women also had a fantastic season with a 7-6 mark in the regular year. They advanced to the NCCAA nationals as well, but ended up in the toughest bracket possible. The women lost a first round match to host and defending national champion Indiana Wesleyan 5-0 in the first round, and then were plowed over by Olivet Nazarene (IL) 5-0. They went out of the tournament strong however as they beat eventual third place finisher Cedarville 5-3. “We were down 2-1 after the doubles against Cedarville and we came on strong in singles,” Elliot said. “We had lost to Cedarville the last two years so it was nice to get a little come back against them.
The lineup for the women’s team included Salem Erni, Kathy Shaw, Cherie Curtis, Courtney Lynn, Cassie Curtis and Stephanie Tyrpak.
NCCAA NATIONALS SUMMARY:
Pool B – Round 1 – def. Campbellsville (KY) 5-2
Round 2 – def. Indiana Wesleyan 5-3
Round 3 – lost to Bethel BC 5-2
Semi-finals – lost to Palm Beach Atlantic 5-0
Pool A – Round 1 – lost to Indiana Wesleyan 5-0
Round 2 – lost to Olivet Nazarene 5-0
Round 3 – def. Cedarville 5-3