news-category: Athletics

Runnin’ Bulldogs Finish in the ITA Top 10 for First Time in Program History

Men’s Tennis Earns Third Big South Regular Season Championship; Five Runnin’ Bulldogs Garner All-Conference Honors

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—After posting a program-best 20 victories during the 2024 spring season, the Gardner-Webb Men’s Tennis team earned the program’s first regional ranking from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), which was recently announced by the organization.

Gardner-Webb finished the season ranked No. 10 in the Carolina region by the ITA. The Runnin’ Bulldogs went 20-4 this past spring, en route to the team’s first outright Big South Conference Regular Season Championship.

Head Coach Mike Griffith

During their record-setting spring, the Runnin’ Bulldogs opened the season with a program-record 15 consecutive match victories before losing at nationally ranked UNC-Charlotte. 

The Dawgs went unbeaten (4-0) in Big South Conference play and captured a share of the conference championship for the second consecutive season.

This marked the third time under Head Coach Mike Griffith that Gardner-Webb has claimed a share of the regular season title, along with the No.1-seed for the conference tournament.

Griffith, also a three-time winner of the Conference’s Coach of the Year (2019, 2023, 2024), finished his 22nd and most successful year at the helm of the Runnin’ Bulldog men’s tennis program.

“The regional ranking is proof we had a fantastic season,” said Griffith, who will have seven of his top eight players return next spring. “We were disappointed with our final match of the season, but those things happen. In the end, we will use that pain to do better next year. With the players we have returning and our new additions, we have the team to go for our third-straight conference championship.”

Six times last spring a Gardner-Webb player was selected Big South Player of the Week while four times the Dawgs earned Freshman of the Week honors.

Big South Men’s Tennis Player of the Year

Eduardo Dias
Photo courtesy Big South Conference

Senior Eduardo Dias (Parana, Brazil) was named the Big South Men’s Tennis Player of the Year.

Dias, a Parana, Brazil native, has chosen to return for one final season in Boiling Springs, was selected Big South All-Conference First-Team for singles and doubles for the third-consecutive year while winning the Conference Player of the Year Honor for the first time in his distinguished career.

Dias was the runner-up in the Player of the Year voting the prior two seasons. 

Playing in the No. 1 singles spot the entire spring for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, Dias posted a 20-1 record, including 18-consecutive victories from the start of the season. His three-year overall dual match singles record now stands at 50-13.

Dias was also honored five-times as the Big South Conference Player of the Week.

In addition to his dominance in singles competition, Dias improved his career doubles record to 34-17 as he was selected First Team All-Conference Doubles for the second consecutive spring.

Dias and his senior doubles partner Chrisjan Van Wyk were ranked 32 in ITA doubles rankings.

Other All-Conference/Big South Awards:

  • Chrisjan Van Wyk (Pretoria, South Africa), who is the only key player not returning to next year’s squad, was named First Team All-Conference Doubles for the second consecutive spring as he finished with a career doubles record of 47-26.
  • Junior Numa Lemieux-Monette (Montral, Canada), First Team All-Conference Doubles, Second Team All-Conference Singles, Big South All-Academic Team with 3.84 GPA as a biology major.
  • Freshman Jurie Terblanche (Perth, Australia), First Team All-Conference Doubles. Terblanche was named Freshman of the Week twice while posting doubles record of 10-8.
  • Junior Alex Lepine (Montreal, Canada), First Team All-Conference Singles. Playing at No. 2 singles throughout the spring, Lepine posted a 12-8 record in dual matches and currently holds a 39-22 career singles mark.
  • Kim Niethammer (Harrenburg, Germany), Second Team All-Conference Singles for the second consecutive year, posted an 18-3 singles record. Niethammer opened the season with 12-straight victories and was named Big South Conference Player of the Week in February. The Harrenburg, Germany, native as a career mark of 41-7.

Source: GWUsports.com

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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