GAINESVILLE, Ga. ---- The Auburn Montgomery men's and women's tennis teams continued their fantastic start to the fall season at the ITA South Regional Championships this past weekend. AUM won all four events, with the winners qualifying for the National Championships later this month.
In women's singles, No. 6 seed Tiffany William upset the top three seeds on her way to the championship, including two come-from-behind three-set victories.
In the quarterfinals, she defeated No. 3 Kourtney Howell from Xavier, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. She followed up that performance with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over top-seeded Jade Curtis from AUM. Curtis had won her first three matches in straight sets prior to the defeat.
William completed her title run with a 7-5, 7-6 (8) triumph over No. 2 Dominika Jasova from host school Brenau.
"It was a great weekend for her," Head Coach Rolando Vargas said. "She was really focused throughout the whole tournament. In her first few matches, she was just finding a way to win, but she saved her best for last."
Morgane Zowczak also reached the semifinals as the No. 4 seed. She dropped only four games in her first three matches before losing to Jasova, 6-4, 6-4. Freshman Chanel Cunningham won her first match before a tight three-set loss to fifth seed Maria Perdoma-Medina (3-6, 6-2, 6-3).
Curtis and Zowczak cruised to the doubles title as the top seed. They dropped only five games in their first three matches, which were played as eight-game pro sets. In the final, the pair had a 6-4, 6-0 victory over the tandem of Howell and Brion Flowers from Xavier, after initially trailing 4-2 in the first set.
"They started a little tight in the final," Vargas said. "But then they started getting into it, and they gave 100 percent at the end and were able to come back. Morgane and Jade have good chemistry together."
On the men's side, the men's singles championship was once again a matchup between Nicolas Pinones-Haltenhoff and Tim Hewitt.
Both Warhawks had tough semifinal matches to set up the rematch, though. Pinones-Haltenhoff went to three sets against teammate Othmane Lalami before winning by a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 score. Lalami, seeded ninth in the tournament, beat the fourth and eighth ranked players on his way to the semifinals.
Hewitt, the third seed, faced off against second-seeded Jody Claussen from William Carey in the semis. After losing the first set, he was only two points from defeat before rallying for a 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 win.
Pinones-Haltenhoff and Hewitt had faced each other three weeks ago in the final of the Fall Charger Stampede, with Hewitt emerging victorious. This time, however, Pinones-Haltenhoff came out on top, defeating Hewitt 6-3, 6-4 in two close sets.
"They both played at a really high level," Vargas said. "Tim showed a lot of poise and character in his semifinal match, and Nicolas had to face Othmane, who had a great tournament. In the final, they both played with great intensity. It was fun to watch."
Josh Reason and Zinelabidine Jouini also had strong tournaments, with each making it to the quarterfinals.
The men's doubles final was another all-AUM matchup. Pinones-Haltenhoff and Hewitt, after a pair of walkover victories on their way to the final, defeated Jouini and Lalami 6-3, 6-1 to win the title.
"When you get some walkovers, it can be difficult because you don't get into any rhythm," Vargas said. "But it also helped them save some energy. Both teams played really well.
"Overall, it was a great weekend for the men's and women's teams."
The title winners now advance to the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, which will take place in Mobile, Ala. beginning on October 11.
Winners of that event face off in the Small College Super Bowl with the opportunity to advance to the USTA/ITA Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in New York later in the fall. The Super Bowl event will also be held in Mobile, immediately following the National Championships.