Six teams met in Orlando last week in the MEAC roundup to compete for one thing, the No. 1 seat in the conference. The coveted spot will be an advantage during the MEAC championship that will be held in April.
Fortunately the University’s tennis team walked away from the roundup undefeated and at the top of the list.
Team captain Clifford Malivert, who defeated all six of his competitors in his singles and double matches, explained that the competition has gotten a little stiffer, but the University came prepared for what its competition had in store.
“Our goal from the beginning was to be No. 1 and take home the championships, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Malivert said.
The Rattlers knocked down five of their competitors 7-0 including Howard University, Morgan State University, Delaware State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. They also dispensed their toughest competition Hampton University 4-3.
Number 2 seat Simbarashe Happy, a sophomore from Zimbabwe who was one of the three to fall to Hampton University in both his singles and doubles match, said the Pirates have grown to be one of the toughest teams in the conference but FAMU came ready foe anything.
“They’ve gotten better this time around, but we worked hard all season,” Happy said. “We were prepared physically and mentally.”
Assistant coach Phungua Mahefu mentioned that he was impressed with his team’s performance and drive this week, especially Paul Paige the No. 6 player who broke the tiebreaker in the win against Hampton University.
“He showed heart,” she said. “We were neck and neck with Hampton 3-3, and Paul came through and finished it for the team,” said Mahefu.
The Rattlers were not the only team who walked away at the top of the list last week. South Carolina State University, who took the MEAC championship from the Rattlers during the finals last year, also went undefeated and is currently tied with FAMU for No. 1.
Therefore the current champions, the Bulldogs, and FAMU will meet during spring break to duke it out for the No. 1 spot for this year’s conference championship.
Malivert also explained that losing is not an option this time around. He said this match is not only a fight for the No. 1 seating, but it’s also payback from last year’s shutdown.
“Let’s put it this way,” said Malivert of the South Carolina State match-up. “We want our revenge.”
Happy said the team has a few kinks that need to be worked out along the course of these next few weeks in order to master its game and its competition.
“It was a good performance this week, after all we beat all of our competitors – but there are ways we can make our performance better,” Happy said. “We need to aim for perfection.”
The Rattlers look to close out their season within two weeks facing two of their final three conference matches this season including South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman University. They look to take on Norfolk State on April 7, and follow up with the MEAC championship.
“We’re brining home the title this year,” said Malivert. “The only thing that can stop us is ourselves.”