On April 14 in Orlando, FL, The Ohio State University capped off a remarkable USTA Tennis on Campus National Championship by defeating the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to win its first-ever National Championship title!
The Buckeyes led from start to finish at the USTA National Campus on Saturday evening, defeating the Tar Heels, 27-13, in a championship finale that saw an in-form team of underclassmen take down an experienced squad that was looking for the title that had so often eluded them.
“I’m shocked. I’m so proud of them,” Ohio State club tennis president Izzi Nejedlik said of her team that includes seven freshmen and sophomores. “I was hoping for Top 10. But Top 1? I never imagined that. It’s the best ending to my club tennis career.”
The Buckeyes got off to the perfect start with Noah Stern and Gavin Aten’s 6-0 men’s doubles win over Holleman Hughes and Seth Pinsky.
The Tar Heels halved the deficit behind Alexandra Lee’s 6-3 singles victory over Adrian Young and Lilly O’Toole, who came in as a substitute for Young. But that was as close as the Tar Heels would get.
Natasha Birze and Paige Carmichael won the women’s doubles over Claire Lieberman and Ellie Johnson, 6-3, to extend Ohio State’s advantage to 15-9 before Aten picked up a 6-1 win over Cooke.
Trailing 21-10 going into the mixed doubles set, UNC knew they not only had to win the set but also make up the double-digit deficit. Stern and Birze defeated Hughes and Johnson, 6-3, with Stern serving out the match in style with an unreturnable serve—an ace up the tee, a mid-court overhead, and a title-winning forehand off of a short return.
“I hit a big serve and she got it back and I had an easy forehand and I was smiling the whole time,” Stern said. “It was awesome, I can’t believe it.
This year’s UNC team includes six graduating seniors who were pushing for one last run at a championship, including senior captain Connor Cooke. “We really wanted one more, and we just didn’t have it. It’s pretty bittersweet because we had a lot of the alumni that had been here two years ago that were rooting for us. They were hashtagging #ManifestDestiny for our run and we really wanted to complete it. We fought to the end. You have to never lose the belief that you can win.”
At the award ceremony, medals were given to silver champions University of Florida, silver finalists San Diego State University, bronze champion Northwestern University, bronze finalist Duke University, copper champion Pennsylvania State University, and copper finalist Virginia Tech. Colorado School of Mines was presented with the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award for 2018!
The 2018 Tennis on Campus National Championships has come to an end, with the winners crowned, friendships made, and another season of tennis closed, we remember these events as more than a competition!
If you missed the championship match check it out on the National Championship website! And a big thanks to the all volunteers and NIRSA staff who helped make this year’s event a huge success!
- Valerie McCutchan, NIRSA Headquarters, Co-Tournament Director
- Newlyn Wing, USTA, Co- Tournament Director
- Stephanie McAlpine, The University of Texas Arlington, Director of Competition
- Shell Wood, USTA Mid- Atlantic, Events Manager
- Elaine Wingfield, WTT, Director Collegiate Competition
- David Peters, Florida State University, Championship Announcer
- Brooke Turner, University of Alabama, Results/Tournament Desk
- Kelli Rockwell, Georgia Tech, Results/Tournament Desk
- Randall Ford, The University of Texas at Austin, Player Relations
- Nicole Jackson, NIRSA Headquarters, Player Relations
- Amy Lingenfelter, University of Central Florida, Player Relations
- Andrea Sneed, University of Central Florida, Player Relations
- Antonio Gonzalez, University of South Florida, Player Relations
- Brittney Blazicek, University of Central Florida, Player Relations
- Joaquin Vidal- Collazo, University of Central Florida, Player Relations
- Jordan Morgan, University of Central Florida, Player Relations
- Lori Sabatose, Penn State University, Player Relations
- Sean Willett, Armstrong State University, Player Relations
- Robert Bruner, University of Central Florida, Player Relations
- For more information, please contact NIRSA Director of National Sport programs Valerie McCutchan.