35 years ago: Chapman tennis wins first national title

Newspaper photograph of the 1985 men's tennis team.
The 1985 national championship CHapman men's tennis team

"Maybe this can be the start of a dynasty," John Hancock was quoted as saying after the Chapman College tennis team won its first NCAA Division II national championship 35 years ago. Hancock must have had a crystal ball as the Panthers went on to win three national titles in four years.

The 1985 D-II championship was the second team title for Chapman College, joining the 1968 baseball team. Chapman had finished fourth in the nation in 1984 but won a school record 24 matches in 1985 on the way to the championship.

Chapman defeated the Hampton Institute (now Hampton College) 5-4 to win the program's first-ever national championship in 1985. Hancock was the one that ended the marathon match as his serve was returned well beyond the baseline for the 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 win in the No. 2 doubles match.

Hancock and All-America freshman Paul Wakesa took a 5-0 lead in that third set to move the Panthers' dreams of a national move to thoughts of "when" rather than "if."

Hall of Fame head coach Mike Edles, who was the architect of the dynasty, and his team felt a feeling of relief as much as jubilation when the final point landed outside the lines. "My first thought (after the win) was that it's over," he was quoted as saying in the moments following the celebration.

Newly announced Chapman Hall of Famer Troy Turnbull captured a key win at the top of the singles lineup, taking down Hampton's previously unbeaten Yaya Doumbia in straight sets (with a momentum singing 12-10 tiebreaker win in the first set). Doumbia had not lost a match to a D-II opponent in his two-year college career before meeting Turnbull in the finals.

The Panthers had previously cruised through the last few rounds of the national tournament. They had clinched team victories with five singles wins before even getting to doubles matches. Hampton came in a bit more battle-tested with an upset of the No. 1 seeded team, using doubles as its strength.

Chapman still outlasted Hampton for the title and went on to beat the same team in 1987 and 1988 as the dynasty lived on through the second half of the 1980s.

By Steven Olveda.
Sports Information Director

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photo and quotes were used from archived stories from the LA Times ond Orange City News