Shaw Bears Six-Peat as CIAA Tennis Champions
(Petersburg, VA) – Shaw's Medhi Ben-Cheikh wore a cap that was both a piece of history, and a sign of things to come. "2007 CIAA Men's Tennis Champions," it read – a souvenir of the championship that Ben-Cheikh and his teammates won his freshman year.
They also took the title in his sophomore, junior, and – today – in his senior year. Ben-Cheikh and Martin Faison – both members of this year's All-CIAA Tennis Team – now share something even more unique: tennis championships in all four of their years at Shaw.
The Bears captured their sixth consecutive CIAA Men's Tennis Championship Saturday with a 5-0 victory against Johnson C. Smith University at the VSU Tennis Complex. As a result, Ben-Cheikh and Faison finish their careers as four-time champions.
"It was important to know that we'd finished what we set out to do each year – win a championship," Ben-Cheikh said.
Faison agreed, "This was important. We've done it each year with different people, but always as a team. It's exciting." He also admitted losing his cap from the championship his freshman year.
The Bears jumped to an early lead with a sweep at doubles. CIAA Player of the Year Fabio Falcato and Ben-Cheikh defeated fellow all conference designees Jason Stuckey and Aaron Hutcherson 8-3 in No. 1 doubles.
Shaw's All-CIAA duo of Kalada Kienka and Milos Stankovic trumped Robert Butts and McKenzie Bean 8-1 in the No. 2 doubles match. Faison and Antoine Jacobs, also an All-CIAA selection, gave the Bears the doubles sweep with an 8-4 victory over Jerald Stuckey and Barren Smith.
With only five points needed for a win, the singles victories by Stankovic and Kienka closed out the championship match. While the other four matches were not completed, the Bears led in all four.
Shaw previous five wins came under an individual flighted competition, while this year's championship was a bracketed team format.
The championship gives the Bears an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division II Regionals. Seeding and location of the first round of play has not yet been announced.
The Bears improve their record to 21-6 overall and finished 12-0 in the conference. JCSU concludes their year at 16-13 overall and 9-3 in the CIAA.