CU heads to Winthrop Thursday for Big South men's tennis final

Fernando Guillen
Fernando Guillen (

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell will travel to Winthrop Thursday to decide the Big South Conference men's tennis championship, six days after the event was originally scheduled.  The match is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. with the winner receiving the Big South's automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.

Last week rain postponed play twice in the championship at Boiling Springs, N.C., as the fourth-seeded Camels and second seeded Eagles each won twice to reach the final.  When rain postponed the match last Saturday, the event was re-set for Thursday at the higher seed, according to conference policy, which also prohits play on Easter Sunday.

In both its quarterfinal win over Radford (4-1) and semifinal triumph over top-seeded Presbyterian (4-3), Campbell secured the doubles point.  Senior Dominik Kaniewski and sophomore Rik van Gerwen went 2-0 in singles to help the Camels reach their first conference final since 2004.

Campbell (13-8) is in search of its first men's tennis crown since winning four-straight Big South Championships from 1989-1992.  The Camels reached the 2004 A-Sun final as the seventh seed before falling to top-seeded UCF.

Winthrop (15-9) defeated seventh seed Gardner-Webb 4-1 and sixth seed Coastal Carolina 4-2 to reach its 14th Big South final.

The Camels are 5-3 in matches decided by one point this year, not including the quarterfinal win over Radford where the final two singles contests were left unfinished after the team decision was reached.  Winthrop edged Campbell 4-3 on Apr. 12 at Rock Hill, S.C., when the Eagles won a pair of 3-set matches in singles.

"We've seen with our team and a good number of the other conference teams that the separation between them is minimal," said 16th-year Campbell head coach David Johnson.  "Sometimes it comes down to matchups and styles of play, who's a little better equipped, better prepared.  Who can handle pressure that day and who can apply it more.  We're certainly hoping it's us.  We're confident and certainly looking forward to tomorrow."

Senior Fernando Guillen leads the Camels with a 22-10 overall singles record, 14-7 at No.-1.  Two weeks ago, he defeated Winthrop's Yuta Hirokawa 6-2, 6-2 at the top singles slot.  A four-time all-conference performer, Guillen ranks third all-time in school singles victories (83-35).

Guillen and junior Adrien Rossignon are 2-0 at No.-1 doubles since pairing for the first time this spring in the regular season finale at Winthrop.  The duo led against Radford 6-4 before their quarterfinal match was halted after CU earned the point.  Guillen and Rossignon then scored an 8-4 win at No.-1 against PC in the semifinal.

Freshman Jean-Marc Krone and junior Marthinus Visser went 2-0 in doubles last week, improving to 15-2 on the season at the No.-3 position.  Winthrop's duo of Juan Pablo Boada and Corey Decandia was one of only two teams to defeat the Camel tandem at the third spot this spring.

After missing three semesters due to a knee injury, Kaniewski returned to post a 17-7 singles record in his senior season.  After going 1-5 against Big South foes in the regular season, van Gerwen only lost one set (in a tiebreaker) last week at Boiling Springs.