One year ago, Hillsdale College was crowned the kings and queens of the (tennis) courts in their first year of competition in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
This weekend, they play to stay on the throne.
Kentucky Wesleyan College is the host institution of this year's Men's and Women's Tennis Championship Tournaments, slated to begin Friday in Owensboro.
The Charger men enter the postseason as the No. 3 seed in the tournament, and will face second-seeded Findlay in a match that will start around 11:30 a.m. All start times this weekend are Central Time.
Tiffin and Walsh will square off in the other men's semifinal starting at 9 a.m. The men's championship match will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Hillsdale finished the season with a 14-8 overall record and 4-2 in the G-MAC, two games behind Tiffin and one behind Findlay. The Chargers were nationally ranked for the first time ever during the regular season and boast of a No. 1 doubles team of Charlie Adams and Justin Hyman, who were nationally ranked as a duo for much of the season. Matches in the conference tournament are not played to completion, but until one team mathematically clinches a win over the other. As was the case last year, the G-MAC men's tennis champion will not receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, because the conference has seven teams, one under the NCAA-mandated minimum of eight to receive an automatic bid for postseason play.
On the women's side, the Chargers (14-2 overall, 7-0 G-MAC) will look to continue an historic run through the G-MAC. For the second consecutive year, Hillsdale completed an undefeated regular season and enters the conference tournament as the top seed. The Chargers square off with No. 4 seed Findlay in Friday's semifinal, and would face the winner of the Walsh-Tiffin semifinal match in Saturday's championship.
The Charger lineup is loaded with talent and depth, making them a very tough matchup in a tournament setting. Reigning conference player of the year Halle Hyman has played primarily in the No. 2 or 3 singles slot while freshman Sarah Hackman has made an immediate impact and has found success at No. 2 singles. Kamryn Matthews and Madeline Bissett form a duo at the No. 3 doubles spot that has been impossible for oppoing conference teams to beat, and they give Hillsdale high-quality depth in the lower singles flights as well.
Hillsdale enters the conference tournament ranked sixth in the Midwest Region and 46th in the latest NCAA Division II Top 50 poll.