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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

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Saints claim CCAC men’s tennis crown for second consecutive season

Gregg’s glorious season led Holy Cross into NAIA Tournament

Spring 2024 will go down as another successful season for Holy Cross men’s tennis. 

After earning their first-ever Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Tournament title and NAIA national tournament berth last year, the Saints followed up with a repeat performance this spring.

Battling injuries throughout the year, the Saints finished the regular season and conference tournament with a 12-3 record. After a rigorous fall season that saw Holy Cross play one of the busiest schedules of any collegiate team in the country, the Saints began a similarly rigorous spring slate with a 1-3 start. That was no concern for head coach Eric Mahone, who saw his team rip off a streak of 11 straight victories that still has yet to be broken.

Perhaps the biggest factor in persevering through the injury bug was the team’s increased maturity. Junior Perry Gregg again performed like one of the best singles players in the NAIA, compiling a 9-0 record. Gregg lost just one set all spring and was ranked No. 5 nationally in the May 2 edition of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s weekly rankings. Backing up Gregg was a strong lineup with another year of experience, including sophomores Luca McManus and Polis Koursaros.

“In terms of differences from last year [to] this year, it's just maturity, right? Last year's team was mostly all freshmen and sophomores in the starting lineup, and now we're [composed of] sophomores and juniors,” Mahone said.

A pair of star freshmen also provided a boost to the Saints this season. Oscar Wai went 11-3 over the course of the spring, including a key No. 2 victory in the CCAC Tournament-clinching match against Judson. Wai’s performance earned him Men’s Tennis East Region Rookie of the Year honors from the ITA. Freshman Adam Singleton also broke onto the scene with success, putting together a 6-4 record over the course of the spring.

“Those guys are experienced players,” Mahone said. “They certainly don't fear the moment. They don't play like freshmen.”

With a more battle-tested group than last year's Saints team that couldn't get past round one of the NAIA Tournament, this year's iteration of Holy Cross men's tennis scored a win in the big dance. The Saints defeated Cumberland by a 4-2 score on Tuesday, pushing their win streak to 12 games. However, they fell by a 4-1 count a day later against Westcliff in the second round, marking the end of their season.