William and Mary fought through an early setback to take down in-state rival Old Dominion Saturday afternoon on the road. Although the Monarchs (12-8) took the doubles point, the Tribe (16-8, 2-0 CAA) came back to win three singles matches including a three-set decider by junior Will Juggins.
The win marked the Tribe’s first victory at ODU since 2011. The Tribe improved to 16-8 for the year, and will head into the Colonial Athletic Association tournament having won 14 of its last 17 matches.
The Optima Health Challenge collects scores from various athletic competitions between William and Mary and ODU, and this weekend’s win tallied up 10 more points for the Tribe, pushing the overall score to 50-35 Tribe. If either the men’s baseball team or women’s lacrosse wins its next match — April 15 and April 26, respectively — the Tribe can claim the Optima Health Challenge Trophy for the first time in the three-year history of the event.
Close scores were the theme of Saturday’s matches. In doubles, the Monarchs edged the Tribe at the No. 1 and 2 spots.
The team of Koen Wiggemans and Zvonimir Podvinski defeated senior pair John Banks and Ben Hoogland, 8-7 (4); Jonas Kuwert and Dante Terenzio defeated junior duo Aaron Chaffee and Juggins 8-3. The Tribe responded with a lengthy 15-game match victory, led by freshman pair Addison Appleby and Damon Niquet, who defeated Carlos Lopes Villa and Abdoulaye Camara, 8-7 (5).
After the Monarchs took the doubles point, the Tribe fought back to gain the lead. While Villa and Kewert marked wins for ODU at the No. 1 and 4 spots, Niquet and Banks both claimed straight set wins at the No. 5 and 6 spots, winning 6-2, 7-5 and 6-2, 6-2. Niquet remained flawless at the No. 5 position (undefeated and 13-0) and 21-9 overall for the year.
But the No. 2 and 3 performances solidified the win for the Tribe. Appleby powered through a three-setter against Terenzio at the No. 2 position after dropping a set in the second to emerge victorious 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. At the No. 3 spot, Juggins grinded out another tough three-set match, coming back after losing the first 3-6. Juggins came back to claim the second set 6-4, and continued to outplay his opponent in the third. The Tribe junior clinched the victory for the team in the third set.
Head coach Peter Daub commended the team’s mental game, an aspect that’s been critical to the Tribe’s late-season success.
“I am tremendously happy for the players. They earned this victory with their hard work, conditioning and ability to handle the emotional and mental stress of the match,” Daub said. “We have worked hard in those aspects leading up to the end of the regular season, and it paid off today.”
The Tribe will host the CAA Championships for the second season in a row, April 18-20, at the Millie West Tennis Facility.
The CAA will release match times later this week. The Tribe will come in as the third seed in the tournament.