You'd never know from the solemn expression on Coach Mike Edles' face that the Chapman College men's tennis team had just defeated Hampton Institute (Va.), 5-3, to win the NCAA Division 2 Championship Wednesday--the school's first national tennis title ever.
Edles' low-key demeanor prompted one reporter to ask, "Is this as excited as you get?"
Edles immediately broke into a huge grin and replied, "Hey, this is pretty excited for me."
Actually, excitation was at a minimum on the Cal State Northridge tennis courts after the finals Wednesday. More than four hours of high-pressure tennis, including team singles and doubles competition, had Edles and his players not only fatigued, but slightly unstrung.
"My first thought (after the win) was that it's over," Edles said. "It was the first thing out of my mouth, anyway."
Who could blame him? Tied 3-3 after 2 1/2 hours of team singles competition, Chapman and Hampton then played 1 1/2 hours of doubles to decide the national title.
It took Chapman's top player, Troy Turnbull, three sets to defeat Yaya Doumbia in team singles, 7-6. 12-10, 6-3. Paul Wekesa also went three sets, 7-5, 7-6, 8-6 to defeat Hampton's Pedro Alipio. Chapman's John Kline won in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 over Datus Murray. Chapman's John Hancock lost to Rozzell Lightfoot, 6-4, 6-2 and Panther John Soldat lost 6-4, 6-4 to Alexis Pepen.
But it was Terry Davis, Chapman's No. 2 player, who had the longest, most difficult day of any of the Panthers. It wasn't five minutes after Davis lost his singles match 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 7-5 to Hampton's Greg Williams, that he was back on the court for the tie-breaking doubles matches.
Davis, paired with Turnbull, fared much better in the doubles as the duo quickly defeated Doumbia and Williams, 6-4, 6-3. Wekesa and Hancock's 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 victory over Pepen and Alipio then clinched the title for Chapman.
"I'm happy about winning, but I'm mad at myself for losing my singles," said Davis, shaking his head. "I wish I'd won that one."
It's tough to gauge these Panthers. In one afternoon, they won the national tennis title and set a school record for most wins in a season with 24 and yet you had to work to get them to crack a smile.