Pirates win National Championship again. And again.
2012 NCAA Division II National Championship Men's and Women's Tennis
Armstrong Men and Women's tennis teams both won NCAA Division II national championship titles at the Top Gun Tennis Academy in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday, May 19, 2012. The wins mark the third time that the Armstrong men and women have both won the championship in the same season. To sweeten the victory even more, both teams finished the season undefeated, a first for the university.
The top-ranked men's tennis team captured its third NCAA Division II Men's Tennis National Championship with a 5-0 win over no. 2 West Florida. The Pirates (30-0) returned to the top of Division II men's tennis after winning titles in 2008 and 2009, doing so in dominating fashion on the scoreboard, although the singles play was much tighter than the final score would indicate.
Armstrong got out to a 3-0 lead after doubles, picking up an 8-5 win in a showdown of the top-ranked duo of Georgi Rumenov and Mikk Irdoja against the no. 2-ranked duo of Kevin Ducros and Bruno Savi. Pirates Sven Lalic and Pedro Scocuglia won handily while teammates Eudaldo Bonet and Matus Mydla went on to clean out the doubles round with an 8-6 win.
In singles play, the Pirates won all six first sets, making it look like it would be an easy 5-0 win, but West Florida battled back in the second sets on all courts. Rumenov finished off the win for the Pirates to seal the deal on the title.
For the women, senior Kathleen Henry captured a second-set tiebreaker to lift the no. 3-ranked Pirates to their seventh NCAA Division II Women's Tennis National Championship in a 5-2 win over top-ranked Brigham Young University-Hawaii. The lady Pirates' 2012 title is their fourth in the last five seasons. Armstrong and BYU-Hawaii are now tied for the most Division II women's tennis titles in NCAA history with seven each.
BYU-Hawaii got out to a very quick doubles lead over Armstrong's second-ranked Barbora Krtickova and Aleksandra Filipovski, but the Pirates rebounded as Henry and Clara Perez notched an 8-5 win, followed by Marlen Hacke and Olga Kalodzitsa converting a late break to come up with an 8-5 win, giving Armstrong the crucial 2-1 lead heading into singles.
Armstrong got off to a fantastic start in singles play, winning five of six first sets in the matches. Perez picked up the first point with a 6-2, 6-4 win in, followed by Hacke winning 6-1, 7-6 to put the Pirates just one match away from the title.
BYU-Hawaii did not go down quietly and prevailed in the first singles battle with a 6-3, 6-1 win and stayed alive with second set wins. That's when Henry, down 5-3 at one point, battled back with a break to force a tiebreaker. She raced out to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak, then watched a shot go long on match point for a 7-2 victory in the tiebreaker and the national title for the Pirates.
The women's appearance in the championships was the 15th for the Pirates, with previous titles in 1995, 1996, 2005 and 2008-10.
Upon returning home to Savannah with trophies in hand, the victors were met with congratulations broadcast over the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport PA system and a crowd of Armstrong students, faculty and staff cheering on their Pirate champs.