Freshmen Britton and Cecil Earn NCAA Singles Titles
by Colette Lewis
, 28 May 2009
Two American teenagers with less than five months of college tennis experience stayed cool under pressure in the Texas heat and humidity Monday, leaving the George Mitchell Tennis Center on the Texas A&M campus with three NCAA championship trophies between them. Duke
's Mallory Cecil defeated Miami
junior Laura Vallverdu 7-5, 6-4 to add a women's singles title to the team title she helped Duke win last Tuesday, while Devin Britton of Ole Miss
posted a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Ohio State
senior Steven Moneke, becoming the youngest men's NCAA champion since the current format was adopted in 1977.
Britton, who turned 18 in March, was ranked 30th in the country coming into the individual tournament, but his serve and volley game proved too strong for his six opponents, three of whom were seniors seeded 9-16, including finalist Moneke.
"I definitely surprised myself," Britton said, chuckling. "I definitely didn't see this coming, but I took one match at a time, didn't have any mental lapses really, so that helped out a lot."
After dropping the first set to Moneke, who was returning well and holding serve with little difficulty, Britton regrouped.
"I took a deep breath and said let's try to figure out a way to make him work to hold serve," said the Jackson, Miss. native. "Eventually I started hitting some better forehands, started mixing up the slice a little bit - I don't think he liked that much - and I just got better and better as the match went on."
Moneke had opportunities in the second and third sets, but Britton either came up with a big serve, a deft drop shot or a groundstroke winner to deny them all.