The Colonials wrapped up their regular season over the weekend, sweeping two non-conference matches that functioned as final tune-ups for the team before it heads to postseason play next weekend.
GW (13-7, 3-2 A-10) traveled to James Madison Friday, winning 5-2. Freshman Francisco Dias took the No. 1 singles position in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, and teamed with senior Ugur Atalay to win in the No. 1 doubles position 8-5.
Sunday’s match against Radford was the final home match of the season for the Colonials, and served as Senior Day for two members of their roster. Atalay and fellow senior Richard Blumenfeld were honored before and after the match, and, fittingly, wrapped their home careers with key contributions to the victory.
“This is the last time that they’ll play on these courts. It’s everything for them,” head coach Greg Munoz said. “They’ve been here since the beginning and they gave us their all today.”
Blumenfeld easily handled his opponent in straight sets, winning 7-6, 6-3 at No. 6 singles. After winning a close first set in No. 2 singles, 7-6, Atalay gave up the second set, falling 4-6.
During the third and final set of his singles match, every other match of the day was complete, and GW and Radford were deadlocked at three. The winner of No. 2 singles would earn their team the ultimate victory, and Atalay, in his final match on the his home tennis courts, shook the pressure and won his third set 6-1.
“I knew that I was going to be stressed, but after I started playing and after I got warmed up, I forgot about the stress and I just played my tennis,” Atalay said. “I’m a senior, I’m graduating and it just happens to come down to my match to win the whole thing. To clinch. Of course I got stressed more, but stress doesn’t help you on the court, it just makes it worse. So I tried to overcome my stress and keep my composure.”
The A-10 tournament begins April 13 and both Atalay and Dias peaked toward the end of the regular season. Dias extended his singles winning streak to eight matches this weekend, while Dias and Atalay extended their doubles winning streak to seven matches.
“It was a great match today. It’s a very nice feeling because we practice very hard to get here. We try during every match we play and we’ve played some very solid teams this year,” Dias said. “It’s going to be a new experience at A-10s.”
While the Colonials are optimistic, they know that postseason play will be more difficult this season than in recent years. GW has earned the top seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament for the past four seasons, but Munoz believes that, given the increased level of competition in the league this year, his team is in line to earn a fifth seed.
There have been signs of the Atlantic 10’s increased strength all season – GW fell to rivals Temple and Charlotte. The Colonials will no longer be looked at as the dominant team, Munoz said, despite their title as reigning A-10 champions. But the team intends on using the rest of the league’s diminished expectations as motivation this postseason.
“There will be less people looking at us as the ones to beat. That is for certain,” Munoz said. “We just have something to prove, as always. We are a good team and we know that.”