NEW ORLEANS -- The Auburn Montgomery tennis teams continued their 2013 Fall season by participating in the USTA/ITA NAIA South Regional Championship this past weekend. The Warhawks enjoyed a successful tournament, as seniors Zinelabidine Jouini and Jade Curtis captured their respective main draw singles titles, while juniors Nicolas Pinones-Haltenhoff and Miguel Grifol won the men's doubles draw.
For the second consecutive tournament, Jouini defeated a teammate in the finals of the singles draw, as the Tunis, Tunisia, native, captured a 6-3, 6-4, victory over junior Othmane Lalami. Jouini won five matches en route to the championship, including wins over William Carey's Jody Claassen (third seed), Xavier's Nikita Soifer (six seed) and Grifol (seven seed). He won four of the matches in straight sets, with the exception being a 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-5) win over Claassen in the round of 16.
Lalami received a bye in the first round and won four matches to reach the finals. Highlighting the tournament for Lalami was a 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 1-0 (10-5) upset of No. 4 seed Kyle Montrel of Xavier in the round of 16.
Grifol advanced to the semifinals of the tournament, before falling to Jouini. The junior picked up a pair of straight-set victories, before upset the No. 2-seed Bruno Tiberti from Georgia Gwinnett, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-3) in the quarterfinals. Grifol dropped his match with Jouini in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-4.
The Warhawks had an opportunity to have all four singles players in the semifinals, but top-seeded Pinones-Haltenhoff was upset by Erik Moberg from Georgia Gwinnett, 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 1-0 (10-8). Pinones-Haltenhoff dropped just two games in his other two matches.
Also in action for the Warhawks were senior Josh Reason and freshman Louis Ingram, both of whom were defeated by players from Georgia Gwinnett College. Reason advanced to the round of 32 before falling 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 to Evgeny Silitski. Ingram reached the round of 16, where he was defeated by Tiberti, 6-1, 2-6, 1-0 (10-8).
In doubles play, the top-seeded pairing of Pinones-Halthenoff and Grifol dropped just eight games en route to the finals, where they met conference foe's Claassen and Philipp Mueller from William Carey. In the finals, the AUM duo withstood a second-set rally from the Carey tandem to prevail 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, and secure the doubles crown.
Jouini and Ingram also competed in the doubles, winning one match before falling to Claassen and Mueller, 8-2.
On the women's side, Curtis claimed the top singles honors. Curtis breezed to the finals, dropping only three games in her first four matches, including a 6-0, 6-1, victory over Brenau's Maria Perdomo-Medina in the semifinals. In the championship match, Curtis faced second-seed Dominika Jasova of Brenau, who tested her before falling in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.
Fourth-seed Chanel Cunningham also played well, reaching the quarterfinals of the tournament before falling to fifth-seeded Brion Flowers of Xavier. Cunningham defeated Loyola's Wesley Dejoie and Xavier's Amber Brown prior to dropping the 6-1, 6-3, decision to Flowers.
Sophomore Maria Fernanda Vargas and freshmen Bright Phakamad and Celine Lenertz were also in action for AUM.
Vargas dropped her lone singles match of the main draw to Luma Schwab, but strung together four straight victories in the consolation draw to top home the top honor. Vargas defeated Belhaven's Mary Lichlyter, 9-7, in the consolation finals.
Phakamad cruised to a perfect 6-0, 6-0, victory in the first round, before falling to Perdomo-Medina in the round of 32. Lenertz was granted a first round bye, but was defeated by Brenau's Zalina Nazarova, 7-5, 7-4, in the round of 16.
In the doubles draw, Curtis and Cunningham were the No. 2 seed and advanced to the semifinals, where they were upset by third-seeded Jasova and Perdomo-Medina, 8-5. Phakamad and Lenertz were the No. 4 seed, but were defeated by Rocio Fernandez and Victoria Svennson in the quarterfinals, 8-5.
By winning their respective draws, Curtis, Jouini, Pinones-Haltenhoff and Grifol will move on to participate in the ITA Small College National Championships, played in Fort Myers, Fla., from Oct. 10-13.
Complete Tournament Results