Alabama-Huntsville wins first NCAA tournament match, beats Stillman
MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Alabama-Huntsville secured the program's first victory at the NCAA tournament on Saturday morning as the ninth-seeded Chargers rocked eighth-seeded Stillman by a 5-1 score. The win improves UAH to 15-11 on the year, while snapping Stillman's 25-match winning streak and dropping the Tigers to 26-3.
Guillermo Reyes sealed the match for the Blue and White as he won his match at the fifth position of singles 6-0, 6-0 to provide UAH with its fifth points, sparking a raucous celebration for the Chargers who had reached the national tournament five times prior but had not won in the event.
"Words can't describe how proud I am of this team," first-year head coach Daniel Finn said following the match. "It has been a long season and these boys have bought into the system and it has finally started to pay off."
The team began the day with a 2-1 lead out of doubles as Christopher Kano and Raphael Oliveira cruised to an 8-2 win at No. 3 doubles for the team's first point, and Jose Soto and Nestor Perez provided the squad with the second point with a hard-fought 8-6 win at the first spot in doubles.
"Today we came out kind of slow, and the guys were really fighting the moment more than their opponent," Finn stated. "I had to bring them in and tell them. After we met before singles, they really did a good job of getting composed and taking what they had earned."
When play transitioned to singles action, the Chargers continued their strong performances and at one point led in five of the six matches on the court to make victory seem like an inevitability.
The first match in singles to go the way of UAH was that of Perez at the fourth position as he won 6-1, 6-1, and it was just a little more than five minutes later that Kano won his No. 3 singles match 6-1, 6-2 to put UAH on the brink of victory - a win that would come in mere moments when Reyes won his match.
The Chargers will now take on undefeated Barry (23-0) who is the No. 1 seed of the South Region and the host institution for this half of the regional bracket.