Game, Set, Match, Marshall
Herd Tennis Takes Home Fourth-Straight MAC Title
Photo by Matt Riley
MUNCIE, Ind. – Four-peat Complete!
With a convincing 4-1 win over No. 55 ranked and No. 1 seed Western Michigan, the Marshall Thundering Herd tennis team captured its fourth consecutive Mid-American Conference Tournament title Sunday afternoon in Muncie, Ind., to leave the conference reigning supreme before heading into Conference USA next year.
Marshall avenged its only conference loss of the season and continued its mastery of the MAC as it fought through windy conditions during the doubles point and finished things off in singles after moving indoors because the wind was too strong to play outside.
The Thundering Herd improves to 19-7 on the year and advances to its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament in two weeks. Western Michigan’s season comes to an end at 20-6.
“I’m so proud of this team,” Marshall head coach John Mercer said. “They’ve really worked hard in these last five weeks after the loss and took it on as a big challenge to win the tournament and they did it. Four MAC titles in four years is a tremendous accomplishment and amazing feeling for all of us.”
In doubles, the Thundering Herd stepped up to the challenge by taking the point from the Broncos unlike earlier in the year and this time the momentum would help carry the Herd to the title. The No. 1 duo of Joelle Good (Zurich, Switzerland) and Danielle Hock (Wigan, England) overcame two subpar performances in the opening rounds and came back with a vengeance to get the first win on the board for the Herd, 8-5. After losing on court two, the point came down to an exciting deciding match on court three. Freshman Shannon Brown (Overland Park, Kan.) and Lille Nzudie (Duoala, Cameroon) pulled through in the clutch as the match was tied 6-6. The freshman senior combination fed off of each others energy to propel themselves to a 9-7 win over Carrie Jeanmaire and Reedhina Parekh.
After clinching the doubles point, tournament officials decided to move the match from the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center to the Muncie Northwestern YMCA because of the wind, but it didn’t bother the Herd.
Marshall continued to roll in singles play as it jumped out to early advantages by taking the first set on every court, but number five.
Nzudie was the first to win in singles on court two as she downed Malena Remynse handily 6-2, 6-2. Good then nailed down the Herd’s second win on court three with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jeanmaire to give Marshall a 3-0 advantage in the match.
Western Michigan’s Priyanka Parekh then handed Marshall its first loss of a point since the last match against the Broncos as she defeated the Herd’s Jeanne Schwartz (West Palm Beach, Fla.) 7-6, 6-2 at No. 5 singles.
With the match at 3-1, Hock had a chance to seal the deal for the Herd and she came through with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Reedhina Parekh to decide it and send the Green and White into celebration as the squad hoisted its fourth trophy in as many years.
Hock said to win indoors at Ball State brought back happy memories from the team’s first title four years ago in the same place in the same circumstances. Marshall lost in the regular season in 2002 to Eastern Michigan and then beat the Eagles in the finals like it did with Western Michigan this year.
“It felt great to win the deciding match and it’s awesome to be champions again,” Hock said. “I’m really glad we could beat Western and get some revenge after losing in the regular season. Everyone played really well and fought hard and all that hard work paid off.”
With her win in singles, Good ties the all-time Marshall career singles wins record of 93 held by Alyssa Bengel. Good will have one more opportunity to break the record when the team heads into the NCAA tournament.
It’s very cool,” Good said. “It’s exciting and hopefully I can break the record at the NCAA’s. It was great to be able to tie the record while also contributing to clinching the fourth MAC title. It’s awesome to win it again.”
Mercer said he gives all the credit to the players on the team for their heart and desire to bounce back from losing earlier in the season and rise to the occasion to defend the title.
“This team put it all on the line and didn’t back down from the challenge,” Mercer said. “You can’t ask for more out a team. They gave it their all and we’re so proud of them.”
Marshall will find out what its next challenge is this week when the NCAA selections are made. Stay logged on to Herdzone.com for more information on when and where the Herd will next be in action.
RESULTS: Marshall vs. Western Michigan
No. 1 – Hock/Good def. Bernosky/Remynse 8-5
No. 2 – Hiranrat/Saruta def. Kroh/Schwartz 8-2
No. 3 – Brown/Nzudie def. Jeanmaire/Parekh 9-7
No. 1 – Kroh vs. Hiranrat 7-6, 2-1 (DNF)
No. 2 – Nzudie def. Remynse 6-2, 6-2
No. 3 – Good def. Jeanmaire 6-3, 6-4
No. 4 – Hock def. R. Parekh 6-4, 7-5
No. 5 – P. Parekh def. Schwartz 7-6, 6-2
No. 6 – Brown vs. Saruta 6-2, 2-6, 0-2 (DNF)