Coming into the Canadian University Tennis Championships, University of Montreal head coach Andrzej Zaleski said that his men’s and women’s teams knew just how hard it is to win a national title. They left nothing to chance and took care of the smallest details in their preparation while readying themselves for some long days and hard battles. Their diligence paid off as both the men’s and women’s teams brought home gold and recorded their first national titles since the event moved from a coed format to separate men’s and women’s divisions in 2015.
NEW CHAMPION CROWNED IN THE MEN’S DIVISION
In a re-match of the OUA Championships, University of Montreal faced a talented University of Toronto team in the final round. The doubles point came down to the wire with the Montreal Carabins clinching the point with an 8-6 win on court #2.
With momentum on their side, the Carabins jumped out to early leads in all of the singles matches. Kamen Damov continued his winning ways at #1 singles beating Toronto’s Sasha Obucina 6-0, 6-1 to put the Carabins up 2-0. The remaining matches tightened quickly as Toronto found their stride and Brett Stinson held onto a 7-6, 6-1 win over Hugo Maurice to put Toronto on the score board.
It looked like Toronto would level the score as Andrew Bourne-Kaponeridis went up a break in the third set at #5 singles but Montreal’s Tim Giquel battled back to win 6-4 in the third set and put Montreal within one point of victory.
The match was still far from over as all of the remaining matches were see-saw battles that could go either way. Rashed Rihani finally clinched the deciding point with his 7-5, 0-6, 6-2 win over Felix Fan at #2 singles to give the Carabins their first men’s national title in program history.
ALBERTA WINS THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF
In the third-place play-off, University of Alberta squared off against University of New Brunswick. Both teams came in eager to hit the courts again as they played well the day before but came up short in their semi-final matches. Alberta secured third place by sweeping the doubles point and recording wins at all 6 singles positions.
At the awards ceremony, Carabins head coach Andrzej Zaleski and his coaching team were named Coach of the Year and Kamen Damov earned the Player MVP award in recognition of his undefeated record in singles play this weekend.
SAME MATCH-UP, DIFFERENT RESULT
In a re-match of last year’s women’s final, University of Alberta faced the University of Montreal in the championship match. Montreal relished the opportunity to reverse the score line from last year where they had a heart-breaking 4-3 loss in a marathon match that took over 6.5 hours to complete.
We expected this year’s match to be a similar battle and it didn’t disappoint. The doubles point came down to a single tie-breaker at court # 2 with Montreal’s Delphie Poulin and Catherine Drolet securing this important point for their team.
Montreal jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fixture as Nolween Cousin and Laurianne Roussel posted impressive performances to win at #3 and #5 singles. Kristina Sanjevic would have to work hard to score the first point for Alberta at #1 singles. With both players fatiguing from the long, high-quality points in steaming hot conditions, Sanjevic pulled out some impressive play to secure a 3-set, come from behind, victory over Aziza Berriri 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
After a quick win by Alberta’s Maki Oba at #4 singles, the team score tightened to 3-2. Sophie Dagenais finally sealed the deal for Montreal at #6 singles with a very long and hard-fought 6-2, 7-5 win over Riyo Tomito. The final fixture score of 4-3 was the same as last year but with Montreal coming out on top this time.
WESTERN BOUNCES BACK
While Western was disappointed with their loss in the semi-finals the day before, they bounced back to win the third-place play-off against University of New Brunswick. Western’s experience paid off against a young New Brunswick team and they go home with a bronze place finish.
University of Montreal’s head coach, Andrzej Zaleski, was named Coach of the Year at the women’s event as well, and Lauraine Roussel, who won all of her singles and doubles matches this weekend, was named Tournament MVP.
It was a great weekend of tennis as the teams showcased the best of university tennis in their highly competitive matches played in a collegial and spirited atmosphere that is the hallmark of university tennis.