Chowan sweeps Shaw for CIAA men’s, women’s titles

Shaw and Chowan are developing quite a rivalry.

The teams met in the CIAA women’s and men’s tennis championships for the third consecutive season, with both Shaw teams looking to defend their titles.

But Saturday belonged to the Hawks, who beat Shaw’s women 5-2 and the men 5-1 to claim their second dual tennis championships in three seasons at the Millbrook Tennis Center.

The Bears were seeking revenge after the Hawks (25-5) gave them their only conference loss of the women’s season and snapped their nine-match win streak.

But Shaw (18-2) was hampered by the loss of senior Hailli Cooke, who went down with a season-ending tendinitis injury.

“That really hurt us because not only were we down a player, but it cost us points in singles and doubles with forfeits,” Shaw coach Sunday Enitan said. “But they are a good team, which is why they are nationally ranked. But we will be back next year.”

Shaw’s Andrijana Martic won the only singles match, and Martic and All-CIAA Marilyne Kamegne took the lone doubles win.

The highlight of the match was a three-set victory by Chowan senior Jessica De Backre over Simbiat Aleem. Aleem defeated De Backre in straight sets in their regular-season contest.

“I had to get it for my team. Being a senior, I knew this was going to be my last match in college,” said De Backre, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player. “I gave it my everything and left it all on the court.”

In the men’s contest, Shaw was no match for Chowan’s power and quickness, losing to the Hawks (20-6) for the second time this season.

“They played with a lot of intensity,” Chowan coach Chris Stambaugh said. “It’s difficult to win a conference tournament because the talent level is so high, but they were able to handle their emotions and stay in the game.”

Shaw (10-6) was swept in the singles matches, and doubles partners Diego Choque and Javier Saez prevented a shutout with a win.

“They were just the better team,” Enitan said of the Hawks. “They are solid from one to six. But I’ll be back.”