It was a special day on Saturday (May 2) for the Nebraska Wesleyan University tennis program as both the men's and women's tennis teams won the 2009 Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament Championships and earned bids to the 2009 NAIA National Championships. The Prairie Wolf men defeated Sioux Falls, 5-1 to earn the automatic bid, while the women had a thrilling 5-4 win over Sioux Falls to punch their ticket to the Championships.
The NAIA National Championships will be held May 12-16 in Mobile, Alabama. This marks the first time in school history that both the men and women have qualified for the National Championships in the same season.
The NWU women had to win three matches in the GPAC Tournament to get to their third straight NAIA Championships. The Prairie Wolves entered the tournament as the third seed and won the opening match, 9-0, over Midland Lutheran on Friday. That setup a dual with Concordia who had beaten the Prairie Wolves in the regular season. NWU rolled past the Bulldogs, taking two of three doubles matches then won the first three individual matches.
NWU then would face top-seeded Sioux Falls in the tournament championship. USF won 5-4 on April 27 to win the regular season, and looked like they were on their way to a tournament victory. USF won two out of three doubles matches, and as singles matches started the Cougars won four of the first six sets.
Mikaela Caudill won her No. 4 singles match with relative ease, and NWU lost the No. 1 and No. 3 singles matches to fall down 4-2. At No. 6 singles, Becca Brown won a tiebreaker in the first set then won 6-2 to make it a 4-3 dual. At No. 5 singles, Sarah Howe lost set one 4-6, then came back strong to win 6-1, 6-0 to tie the match at 4-4.
The final match to be finished was at No. 2 singles where Chelsea Henslee had lost set one, 6-2 and fell behind in the second game to one of the top players in the GPAC, and an opponent that defeated her with ease earlier in the week. However, with the crowd gathered to watch the final match, Henslee won the second two sets, 6-4, 6-1 to give NWU the emotional victory.
The NWU men were the No. 2 seed and tried to get back to the NAIA National Tournament for the first time since 2006. The Prairie Wolves defeated Concordia, 5-2, in the semifinal match to set up a rematch with Sioux Falls who had defeated them earlier in the week.
Nebraska Wesleyan took two out of three doubles matches, then won two early singles matches before senior Eric Holmes won his No. 3 singles match to clinch the title and send the Prairie Wolves to Mobile, Ala.