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Barry endures to achieve perfect season

2015 Division II Men’s Tennis

If the Barry University men’s tennis team looked and felt the same as it did when the season began, the final victory would have come as no surprise.

Early on, Buccaneers players were nearing peak fitness, amassing wins and enjoying their climb to the top – a familiar spot for the program.

The smooth sailing came to an end, however, when injuries struck in the middle of the season. First it was an ankle, then a wrist. Soon, coach George Samuel said, four of their top six players had dropped out of the Buccaneers’ lineup. That’s enough to throw any championship-caliber team out of the running. But the Buccaneers did not falter.

“Nobody gave up,” Samuel said. “That’s the interesting part about this group… No matter who wasn’t well, somebody else stepped up to the plate to keep this going.”

Samuel pointed to the team’s tradition and experience, which included a handful of men who played on Barry’s undefeated national championship team in 2013. “They’ve got the shoulders to lean on,” the coach said. “They can be the strength and the role models for the rest of the guys to give them confidence.”

So when Ahmed Triki, Nico Dreer and Kevin Sielmann recovered in time for the Division II national championship on May 16 in Surprise, Arizona, the team hadn’t skipped a beat in their absence. No. 2 Barry secured the program’s third national title with a 5-3 victory over top-ranked Hawaii Pacific University. In doing so, the Buccaneers capped off an imperfectly perfect season, finishing 26-0.