Men’s Tennis Makes History with First CACC Championship
Jonathan Ducretot ’17, co-captain of the men’s tennis team, stood with his arms around two of his teammates, watching in anticipation as Victor Love ’18 held championship point on his racket. The crowd, which had been cheering all match, had become almost silent, the only sound, a racket’s swoosh as it made contact with the ball on Love’s serve.
It wasn’t long after, as the return from Post University’s Joe Alford landed in the net, that the crowd began cheering once more, sharing in the joy and enthusiasm of the men who were running toward each other and embracing on the court, celebrating their historic victory.
The moment had finally arrived. Fifteen years after elevating to NCAA Division II status, Chestnut Hill College had won its first DII and Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) championship. It was also the first championship of any kind for the men’s tennis team, which played its first season in 2004.
For the team, it was a dream come true and one that had been several years in the making.
“It’s full circle,” says Ryan Gargullo, head coach, who served as an assistant with the team from 2010-12. “Just knowing where we started and coming from humble beginnings and going through the process of building this team each and every year, it was great to get another chance and this time take it home for Chestnut Hill.”
The Griffins have enjoyed a great run of success, dating back to the 2012-13 season, when they reached their first CACC Championship. The team became a mainstay in the finals every year after, joining Concordia College as the two undisputed top teams in the conference. Every year they faced the Clippers and every year, it was more of the same, as the College’s trophy case filled with runner-up plaques.
But at the start of the 2016-17 regular season, it was Chestnut Hill College that earned the preseason #1 ranking and the Griffins who had been named the team to beat in the conference. The team didn’t disappoint, proving worthy of their ranking by posting a 15-5 overall record and an undefeated mark against CACC opponents. Individual accolades accompanied team success, with Ryan Gargullo winning the BSN Sports CACC Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year, Pierre Kohler ’19 winning the CACC Men’s Tennis Player of the Year, Antoine Gautier ’20 winning the CACC Men’s Tennis Rookie of the Year, and four players being named to the All-Conference first or second teams.
It was the most successful regular season in program history, but the pinnacle still awaited. By merit of its record, CHC earned the top seed in the conference tournament, which was once again hosted by CHC. In the semifinals, the team dispatched Philadelphia University in a 5-0 shut-out, followed by another 5-0 victory over Post in the championship, with Ducretot — who was named the CACC tournament’s MVP — and Love recording the necessary points in their singles matches.
“Unbelievable,” Oranges said following the match. “The first year it felt so far and then each year we kept getting closer and closer and finally made it.”
“Four years, making it to the championship every time, this was our year,” Ducretot added. “We had a great group of guys, great people, great weather. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience.”
— Marilee Gallagher ’14