When the College of Charleston women's tennis team traveled to Furman a couple of weeks ago, they carried not only their dreams but the dreams of the men's tennis team as well. By scoring a 6-1 victory over the Paladins, Charleston clinched the women's tennis title and also assured that both Cougars teams would be playing at Patriots Point for this weekend's Southern Conference tournament.
The Southern Conference changed the way championship venues would be decided this year, with the top women's team having the option to host the men's and women's tournament, with only the top four teams qualifying. So one of the last things men's coach Jay Bruner told women's coach Angelo Anastopoulo before the Cougars headed to Greenville was, "We sure would like to be playing at home."
"It's one thing to control your own destiny, but when you control the destiny of another team as well..." Anastopoulo said.
Both Charleston teams finished their league seasons unbeaten (10-0) and are the No. 1 seeds going into today's opening round. The men's team, which posted a 16-3 overall record, will face No. 4 Elon at 8:30 a.m. today. The women's team was 18-9 overall and will face No. 4 Davidson at 1 p.m. At stake are automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.
Three members of the men's team posted 9-1 records in Southern Conference matches this season, juniors Mickael Boyer and Lukas Koncilia and sophomore Mickael Trintignac. Koncilia was the SoCon player of the year and along with Trintignac made first team all-league. Boyer was named second team all-SoCon in singles. Bruner also was coach of the year.
Senior Holly Dowse, with an 8-1 league record, was first- team all-SoCon for the women, while sophomore Caroline Newman, with a 10-0 league record, and junior Kinsey Casey, with an 8-2 mark, were second- team picks. Anastopoulo was the co-coach of the year. Rowse and junior Emma Hayman are the No. 33-ranked doubles team in the country.
Anastopoulo said the Cougars have dealt well with pressure throughout the season.
"I knew we had the capability (to win the league)," said Anastopoulo, whose team won the SoCon Tournament last year. "The players did a tremendous job of preparing in the offseason and have worked very, very hard. Our out of conference schedule was one of the toughest in the country, so that really helped us.
"One of the most exciting things is they are not having to miss any class. Our players are very conscientious about their grades and their academics. To not miss a day of class because you have to travel is great, and it benefits me because it helps keep them a little more relaxed."
The Cougars' singles lineup includes two seniors, three juniors and a sophomore.
Playing at home, is definitely an advantage, Bruner said.
"It definitely gives us an advantage as far as comfort and pace of play," Bruner said. "We're grateful to the women's team that they were able to clinch the regular season."