Hawks Tennis Fighting at the MEAC Championships 2004
April 24, 2004
Orlando, FL - This season has seen some positive strides in our tennis program; individual players have demonstrated improvements in power, consistency, and stroke effectiveness. The men's squad has more depth than we've seen in years at UMES. As our season concludes with the MEAC Championships in Orlando Florida, the team gains momentum with some strong performances near the end of the season.
Our #1 singles player (Brandon Jackson) played excellent tight matches 6-4, 6-2 at Towson, and 6-3, 6-1 at Coppin against outstanding competitors. George Ray won both singles and doubles (with Rob Schneider) to capture the team victory against Delaware State at home. Hasika Pamanuwa posted wins against Morgan State, Delaware State, and Coppin State this year. Teaming with Shahan Sudusinghe in doubles, Pamanuwa took home victories against Morgan State, Delaware State, Coppin State, and a solid effort against a tough Towson team losing 8-4.
The MEAC Conference Championships are about team performance and one or two individuals cannot ensure the team victory. The opening day of play for the Fighting Hawks began against the Bears of Morgan State. With the temperature in the high eighties conditioning and dehydration is going to be a factor all week. Morgan captured the doubles point, taking the top two positions 8-0 and 8-2. Jackson faced Morgan's powerful baseliner Poole at the # 1 spot. Their unfinished match was 6-2, 5-3 with Poole in the lead with the team match was concluded. Rob Schneider came on strong in the second set with some excellent serving but fell short 6-0,6-3. George Ray was out played 6-1,6-1. Lamar Sutton went scoreless and the overall match concluded 4-0 Morgan State in the first round.
Next the Hawks Tennis squad faced Coppin State. UMES #3 doubles (Pamanuwa, Sudusinghe) took their match 8-4. Coppin State captured the other two doubles 8-2, and 8-2. Coppin State leads going into the singles 1-0 overall. Jackson faces a solid all court player, Celea from Coppin State. While trading endless baseline rallies in the first set, Jackson's back becomes inflamed and goes into spasms. The trainer is called on court and the match continues. Jackson fights through and improves in the second set, but the match goes to Coppin State 6-0, 6-2. Rob Schneider plays one of his best matches all year. Using his 6'4" frame to pound some serves around the 120MPH mark. He followed these with inside out forehand winners and attacking volleys. Coppin State's #2 player is such a solid well-rounded player he took the match comfortably 6-2,6-2. George Ray was facing last year's #1, Johnson. Coppin State took the #3 singles position (6-0,6-1) and the overall team match. Because of the tournament foremat the #5 and #6 matches were never started.
The last match of the MEAC Championships for the men's team saw us facing our cross Delmarva rival Delaware State. Constant tension and shifts in momentum kept this match tight from the start. We took Jackson out of the doubles to rest his back for singles. Del State took the #1 Doubles easily 8-1. UMES took the #3 doubles quickly 8-2. William (Max) Miller came to play hit big serves and topspin forehand angles to set up Hasika for net winners. That critical doubles point came down to Schneider-Ray against Daniel-Corral from Delaware. Schneider was having trouble with his big forehand weapon on return of serve. To spite an excellent comeback, UMES could not seem to get a break when they needed it. Delaware takes the doubles point 8-5. Brandon Jackson played with a lot of heart but fell 6-1, 6-2 to Popescu. At #2 singles for UMES Rob Schneider stayed focused and kept to his strategy brilliantly. Unfortunately he came up a little short, Delaware took the match 6-4, 6-4. Sudusinghe at the #6 position lost the first set 2-6 and was getting pulled into playing the opponent's style of play. He was able to regroup and won the next two sets 6-2, 6-3. Hasika Pamanuwa took the lead and held on the entire match 6-3, 7-6 (7-3). Lamar Sutton at our #4 singles spot, called on every bit of will power and Hawk Pride to post the victory. He took the first set 6-4. Then let the second slip away 3-6. The heat and dehydration was getting to him and you could see both players having trouble keeping focus. During the second set Lamar had to leave the court to vomit. He kept to his game plan, kept a high % of serves in, and attacked the net when the moment was right. He ended that marathon match with a victory for the Hawks. The overall match is now tied at 3 all. Everyone is off the court except George Ray at the #3 singles spot. He took the first set 6-3 against the 6'5" lefty from Delaware State. Jarred Kershaw captured the second 6-4. Now, one set will decide the entire team match. Ray jumps out to a 4-1 lead. Muscle cramps start to set in. George calls for a medical timeout and gets on court treatment from the trainer. Kershaw gets back on track and starts to get his booming serve in the court more often. Now the match is about dead even. Both players hold serve and go into the tiebreak. After some amazing saves by Ray on wide groundstrokes the tiebreak stands at 3-3. Unfortunately the muscle cramps return in both thighs and George is having trouble driving against the floor on serves and forehands. Kershaw closes out the tiebreak 7-3. Delaware State takes home the victory 4-3.