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College tennis: Brenau University claims Appalachian Athletic Conference title
Golden Tigers beat SCAD-Atlanta in finals
Valentina Pabon, a freshman from Bogota, Columbia, gets a hug from Paula Rives Palau, a senior from Barcelona, Spain, after clinching for Brenau during the semifinal round of the Appalachian Athletic Conference women's tennis championships on Saturday at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn. - photo by AJ Reynolds/Brenau University

The Brenau University tennis team wrapped up its first year in the Appalachian Athletic Conference with both the regular season and conference tournament championship after a 5-3 victory over Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta on Sunday, April 22, at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Playing indoor due to rain, the Golden Tigers capped off a perfect record in conference play with a decisive win over the second-seeded Bees.

“First year in the conference and they get a conference championship, both regular season and tournament,” said Brenau athletic director Mike Lochstampfor. “Kudos to (coach) Andre (Ferreira) and his team. 

“He worked a long time to get this in our previous conference and now has done it in our first year in the AAC. I’m really proud of him and these great athletes.”

In doubles play, Brenau posted a clean sweep, winning all three matches to post an early 3-0 advantage. 

The doubles team of Rebecca Pijls and Valentina Pabon defeated Madison Umbaugh and Giulianna Hull 8-5, while the team of Paula Rives Palau and Patricia Recalde Pacua outpaced Sofia Guerra and Antonella Altamirano 8-5.

Brenau doubles team Peeraya Charoesirisutthikul and Maya Mammetgulyyeva defeated Katrina De Guzman and Simran Kejriwal by an 8-5 margin to avenge the pairings’ previous loss during the regular season.

Entering singles play with a 3-0 advantage, both Kirsten Dickens and Rives Palau each won their matches in straight sets to clinch the Golden Tigers’ first AAC Tournament championship.

“The part I’m really happy about is these girls,” said Brenau coach Andre Ferreira. “I think the girls this entire season felt they had something to prove, so I’m really happy for the group. It’s a bit of an older team with three seniors, and they’ve wanted this. 

“We started the year not ranked and slowly moved up in the rankings. So this is the perfect end to the season for this team. We just can’t wait for nationals.”

In addition to their regular season and tournament team performances, the squad also received numerous individual postseason honors, including winning all three major AAC women’s tennis awards.

After posting an undefeated singles conference record in her inaugural season, Charoensirisutthikul was named both AAC Player and Freshman of the Year.

The AAC coaches also selected Ferreira Coach of the Year for guiding his team to a perfect 9-0 regular season record.

Mammetgulyyeva and Recalde Pacua joined Charoensirisutthikul on the All-Conference team. 

Both were instrumental in helping the team capture the regular season championship. Additionally Pabon received All-Freshman honors for her play during her first season as a Golden Tiger.

Brenau next competes at the 38th Annual Women’s Tennis National Championships on May 15-19 at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Alabama.