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Bison Tennis Team Beats Rival Morgan State on Senior Day

Howard University’s tennis seniors shine in victories against Morgan State Bears, fueling optimism as they head into the MEAC championships this week.

The men’s and women’s team honoring their seniors on senior day. (Photo courtesy of Benita Gladney) 

The Bison triumphed over their conference rival, the Morgan State Bears, with the men’s team securing a 4-3 victory and the women’s team winning 5-2 at Banneker Recreation Center this past weekend. 

As the seniors concluded their final regular season game, their performance generated momentum going into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) conference championships this week.

The Bison and Bears are no strangers to one another, with near-annual contests dating back to 2006 for the men’s team and 2008 for the women. 

The men have struggled historically against the Bears, holding a record of 4-10, with their last win in the series coming in 2013. Saturday’s win marked a breakthrough for this year’s senior class that will be pivotal if they hope to make a run at the championship.

The Lady Bison have a stronger record of  8-7 against Morgan State and commanded a series lead with their performance.

“We knew our skill was up to par, but our skill alone wasn’t going to help us win. It was how we faced adversity and how we were able to not let it affect the way we played,” five-time MEAC rookie of the week Imani Jean, told The Hilltop.

Before the matches began, Nicholas Askew, the director of tennis took a moment to recognize the seniors along with the rest of the program. 

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The senior Bison honored were Justin Cadeau, Hassimiyou Dieng, Gabriel Knowles and Pierce Westbrook. Family, friends, teammates and spectators embraced the seniors with cheers and applause as the senior day introduction concluded. 

The men’s team took a 1-0 match lead after winning two out of three in the doubles competition. 

Cadeau and Michael Major Jr. defeated Morgan State’s Mikeal Carpenter and Makkijha Brown 6-2. The seniors, Dieng and Knowles secured a win over their opponents Bertin Karenzi and Jaeden Patterson, 6-4.

For singles, Cadeau and Major were riding the high from winning their doubles match and secured three-set victories. Daniel Dunac won in straight sets over his opponent Brown, 6-4 in both sets. 

Gabriel Knowles, a senior political science major from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and men’s team captain dissected his performance during doubles and singles, saying, “Me and my partner, Hassimiyou Dieng, came out with the doubles win clinch. I ended up losing my match but the team won so that’s what matters.”

The women’s team saw success as well, winning two out of three in doubles competition. Jordan Grayson and Selah Stibbins secured their sixth consecutive win, beating the Bears’ Averiana Mitchell and Iva Jankovic. 

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Sifa Butcher and Dana Hall defeated Aleksandra Evdokimova and Stefania Moysiadi, 6-4, for their fourth straight win.

During singles, Nadia Pegram captured her 13th victory after playing three sets against Lauryn Hall. The scores read 4-6, 7-6, 7-5. Sifa Butcher, Ava Chambers and Imani Jean also captured single wins for the Bison. 

“In my personal match yesterday, I felt I was able to stay focused and not let outside distractions affect me. It was important for me to close the team out on a good note and I feel that executed properly,” Jean said.

Cadeau, Dieng, Knowles and Westbrook have demonstrated resilience throughout their Howard tenure, overcoming challenges such as disruptions caused by COVID-19. It may be the end of their tennis career as Bison but it is only the beginning of their journey outside of the Mecca. 

“You know all good things come to an end and I’m glad I got to use my years of college tennis here at Howard,” said Justin Cadeau, a senior finance major from West Orange, New Jersey, and men’s team captain. 

The Bison will travel to Cary, North Carolina on April 25-27 for the MEAC Championships. 

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Copy edited by D’ara Campbell

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