The Oglethorpe men's tennis team clinched a share of the SAA regular season championship on Senior Day Sunday afternoon on the Downing Howell Courts, defeating Centre in a clean sweep, 9-0. It marks the first conference championship of any type for the Oglethorpe tennis program and means that the Stormy Petrels finish the regular season with a 13-5 overall record and a 6-1 mark in conference play.
The Petrels got started with a clean sweep of the doubles portion of competition, with senior C.J. Antonio and sophomore Rhys Richardson, the 10th-rated doubles team in the region, defeating their opponent 8-2 at No. 1 doubles. Senior Briton Richardson and freshman Michael Allen followed with an 8-5 win at No. 2 while freshmen Angel Llerena and Richard Johnson dominated their opponents, 8-1, at No. 3.
The Petrels were in good shape with a 3-0 lead headed into singles, and they cruised to the all-important victory. Antonio, the 23rd-ranked player in the nation, swept his opponent off the court, 6-0, 6-0. Fellow senior Briton Richardson did the same at No. 5, clinching the match and the share of the regular season crown for the Petrels.
After that, the Petrels continued to rack up wins. Rhys Richardson won 6-2, 6-0 at No. 4 singles while senior Matt Roberson took his No. 6 match, winning 6-1, 6-2. Sophomore Judd Motz knocked off his opponent 6-4, 6-4 at No. 2. Llerena hung tough in a competitive match at No. 3 and won a 10-set tiebreaker to take the match 6-2, 5-7, 1-0 (6).
The Petrels celebrated Senior Day festivities before the match, honoring Antonio, Briton Richardson and Roberson for their careers at Oglethorpe.
"I could not be prouder of this team for their performance this weekend," said Oglethorpe head coach Peter Howell. "The win Saturday over Sewanee was one of the best wins in program history and today, with a chance to clinch a share of the conference regular season title, the guys really took care of business. Winning the tennis program's first-ever conference championship of any type is a special moment, made all the better by the fact that it happened on Senior Day. We're looking forward to competing for the SAA Tournament championship in a couple weeks!"
The Petrels will share the SAA regular season title with Sewanee and Birmingham-Southern, with all three finishing 6-1 in conference play. With the three teams even head-to-head and against succeeding teams in the league standings, the first two tiebreakers, seeding at the SAA Tournament will be decided by the NCAA regional rankings, which are scheduled for release on Thursday. The SAA Tournament will take place April 29 through May 1 at the Adams Tennis Complex at Old Fort Park in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.