WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The William and Mary men’s tennis team battled to the end but dropped a narrow 4-2 decision to the No. 65-ranked College of Charleston in the Colonial Athletic Association Semifinals on Saturday afternoon at the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center. W&M, which was seeded No. 3 at the championship, took the doubles point to open the match, but the No. 2-seeded Cougars responded by winning four of the five completed singles matches to edge the Green and Gold. The Tribe closed out the season at 17-9, while Charleston advances to the league championship match on Sunday.
W&M raced out of the gates in doubles, seizing 3-0 advantages at both the No. 2 and No. 3 positions. The senior tandem of John Banks and Ben Hoogland continued to roll, dropping just one game at No. 3 on the way to a dominating 8-1 performance over the CofC’s Charlie Ghriskey and Zack Lewis. The Green and Gold duo improved to a team-best 22-13 in doubles competition, including a 15-5 ledger in dual-match play.
At No. 2, senior Ben Guthrie and freshman Addison Appleby led 5-2 over the Charleston pair of Crescente Lesser and Rodrigo Encinas, who entered the match a perfect 12-0 on the year. The Cougar team won two straight games to pull within 5-4, but W&M would not be outdone, responding with two straight games of its own to push ahead, 7-4. After CofC held serve, Appleby’s overhead smash on match point clinched the doubles point for the Tribe and cemented an 8-5 win. The victory pushed Appleby and Guthrie’s season ledger to 8-3 at the No. 2 post.
Charleston countered with a win at No. 2 singles to tie the match at one as Guthrie was forced to retire due to injury after dropping the first set and trailing in the second. At No. 3, junior Will Juggins rallied from a break deficit to force a tiebreaker in the opening set, but Lesser pulled out the 7-6 (3) win for CofC. The Cougar player outlasted Juggins in the second set, 6-4, to push the No. 2 seed ahead 2-1 in the team standings.
At the top position, Hoogland raced out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set, before CofC’s Brice Allanic rallied to even things at four. The competitive first-set went to a tiebreaker, where Hoogland again jumped out to a commanding advantage, 5-1. Allanic drew to within 6-5, but Hoogland took the opening set, 7-6 (5), with a lob on set point.
The Tribe senior again jumped out to a 3-0 cushion in the second set, but was slowed due to cramping. Hoogland tried to gut through it, but Allanic took advantage rallying to take the second set, 6-4. The Cougars’ top player controlled the third set, 6-1, to increase Charleston’s lead to 3-1.
Freshman Damon Niquet pulled out a three-set victory at No. 4 for the Tribe, closing the gap to 3-2. He won the opening set from Lewis, 6-3, before the second set went to a tiebreaker. Lewis rallied and squeaked past Niquet, 11-9, in the breaker to force a decisive third set. The Tribe rookie raced out to a commanding advantage in the third and road it to a 6-2 victory. It marked his eighth straight win to end the season, while he wrapped up his rookie campaign at 22-9.
It looked as though the Tribe would secure another point at the No. 6 spot as Banks was up a set and on serve in the second, but Charleston clinched the team triumph with a victory at the No. 5 position. CofC’s Charlie Ghriskey upended sophomore Scott Huang, 6-4, 6-3, to cement the semifinal win for the Cougars.
At No. 6, Banks and Alon Faiman went to a first-set tiebreaker, before the Tribe senior jumped out to a 6-0 advantage on the way to a 7-1 triumph in the breaker. The match was on serve in the second after the players traded breaks when it was abandoned with the team result decided.
The CAA Championship match is slated for 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 20, at the Tennis Facility in Williamsburg. The College of Charleston will face the No. 1 seed UNCW in the title match. The Seahawks advanced behind a 4-0 win over James Madison in the other semifinal on Saturday. Live results from the CAA Championship match will be available at TribeAthletics.com.
#2 College of Charleston 4, #3 William and Mary 2
No. 1 – Brice Allanic (CofC) def. Ben Hoogland (W&M) – 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-1
No. 2 – Rodrigo Encinas (CofC) def. Ben Guthrie (W&M) – 6-2, 3-0, retire
No. 3 – Crescente Lesser (CofC) def. Will Juggins (W&M) – 7-6 (3), 6-4
No. 4 – Damon Niquet (W&M) def. Zach Lewis (CofC) – 6-3, 6-7 (9), 6-2
No. 5 – Charlie Ghriskey (CofC) def. Scott Huang (W&M) – 6-4, 6-3
No. 6 – John Banks (W&M) vs. Alon Faiman (CofC) – DNF, 7-6 (1), 3-4
Finishing Order: 2, 3, 1, 4, 5*
No. 1 – Chaffee/Juggins (W&M) vs. Allanic/Faiman (CofC) – DNF, 6-5
No. 2 – Appleby/Guthrie (W&M) def. Lesser/Encinas (CofC) – 8-5
No. 3 – Banks/Hoogland (W&M) def. Ghriskey/Lewis (CofC) – 8-1
Finishing Order: 3, 2*