MOBILE, Ala. – The Georgia Gwinnett College men’s tennis program has added another NAIA national championship to its impressive resume after this year’s team defeated Keiser University (Florida) 4-1 to capture the 2021 title on Saturday from the Mobile Tennis Center.
GGC has won all seven national championship matches it has appeared in since 2014. The program has a 28-0 record all-time in the postseason matches.
“The seven-peat is incredible and to increase our winning streak to 147 straight matches makes it even better,” said Head Coach Chase Hodges. “The key to winning the 2021 title was coming out on top in doubles point. It set us up perfectly to take the match.”
The Grizzlies got off to a fast start in doubles, earning victories on the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles courts. The tandem of junior Federico Bonacia and sophomore Matthias Haim picked up a 6-3 victory at the top of the lineup. Then, the duo of junior Valentino Caratini and freshman Luis Gomar clinched the doubles point with a 6-4 triumph on the No. 2 court.
The 1-0 match advantage would be beneficial as players from both teams battled throughout singles. GGC won the opening set in four of the six singles matches.
Haim earned an impressive 6-4, 6-2 victory against Toru Horie on the No. 2 court to give the Grizzlies a 2-0 lead. It was Horie’s first loss of the season.
“I served really well and was aggressive in the follow-up shots. It was one of the best performances I’ve had this season,” stated Haim.
Sophomore Jose Dugo followed with a hard-fought 7-5, 6-2 victory at No. 4 singles to put the top-seeded team just one point away from the national title.
Several minutes later, Gomar came up clutch for the Grizzlies by holding serve and clinching the championship with a 6-4, 6-4 win on the No. 3 court. Keiser’s Geronimo Barrios missed wide on the 40-40 game after an exchange of several shots by the two fierce competitors.
“I have dreamed about this final match, but it was so much better in reality,” said Gomar. “I played each point today for everyone who is and ever has been a Grizzly (tennis player). We’re a family and have a strong connection. It was a team effort,” said Gomar.
Haim was named the championship’s most outstanding player, but deflected the personal achievement to his teammates.
“While it’s a huge honor to be recognized, I accept this award on behalf of the team. Several players could have won this award. It took all of us to win the championship,” stated Haim.
The Grizzlies have now won 147 consecutive dual matches – the longest winning streak in collegiate sports history.
“Each team has its own identity and each national title is really special,” stated Hodges. “This program has established a special championship culture and a family attitude, since our very first team in 2014, that’s hard to beat. It will keep the winning continuing into the future.”