Gold Nuggets earn team tennis title at HBCU National Championships

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COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — Xavier University of Louisiana women’s tennis won 10-of-13 matches Saturday to capture the team title of the HBCU National Championships.

The Gold Nuggets, a longtime NAIA power, scored 20 points to win the title against a field that included eight NCAA Division I teams. Jackson State was the runner-up with 17 points, and Morgan State was third with 14.

Tournament organizers ended the event because of rain Saturday evening and more rain in the forecast for Sunday. The Gold Nuggets’ accomplishments included:

• Kyra Akinnibi and Aisha Niyonkuru reaching the A-singles final. Niyonkuru, a freshman, defeated top-seeded Jasmine Boyd of Alabama A&M, 7-6 (7-0), 1-6, 1-0 (10-5) in the semifinals. Akinnibi’s road to the final included a 6-4, 6-3 semifinal victory against third-seeded Brittney Combest of Grambling. Akinnibi and Niyonkuru will play for the title on a future date at XULA Tennis Center, said Coach Alan Green.
• Akinnibi and Niyonkuru reached the A-doubles final after a 6-1 semifinal victory against top-seeded Asmara Rose and Averiana Mitchell of Morgan State.
• Freshman Tianna Dixon improved to 3-0 in singles with her C-bracket quarterfinal victory against Jackson State’s Fabiola Candal Ranalli, who retired because of injury with Dixon leading 6-1, 3-0. That bracket was not completed.

XULA won the HBCU women’s title for the second time in its last three attempts. The Gold Nuggets won it for the first time in 2018. The tournament was not played in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For the first time in XULA history, the Gold Nuggets and the Gold Rush won HBCU team titles in the same season. XULA outscored Alcorn State 18-15 to earn the men’s title.

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