(AUBURN, Ala.) – The No. 10 University of North Georgia men’s tennis team saw its 2024 season come to an end at the hands of No. 6 Columbus State in the finals of the Southeast Region #2 Tournament Tuesday afternoon.

The Nighthawks fell 4-1 to the Cougars, ending their season with a 14-8 record after making their fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and third straight appearance in the Round of 32.

The day started with a loss in the doubles point to CSU. Despite senior Joaquin Benoit and junior Robin Eldin winning the #1 doubles match 6-3, the Cougars took the #2 and #3 matches 6-2 each to take the early point.

Benoit earned the lone point of the day for UNG in the #1 singles match with a 7-6, 6-0 victory over CSU’s Justin Welz. With the win, Benoit ended his season and Nighthawk career as one of the best men’s tennis players to ever step foot in Dahlonega.

However, the Cougars snagged wins in the #3, #5 and #6 singles matches to clinch the match and advance to the NCAA Division II Tennis Championships in Orlando, Fla.

Benoit, a Mar del Plata, Argentina native ended 2024 with a 16-2 singles record, marking the best singles season in program history with an .889 winning percentage. With a career 55-16 record in singles matches, Benoit stands as the second winningest men’s tennis player in UNG history. His 55-16 record also holds a career .774 winning percentage, the best in program history.

Benoit ends his career with nine Peach Belt Conference postseason accolades, including a title as the 2024 PBC Co-Player of the Year. He made the PBC all-conference teams for both singles and doubles in all four years with the program.

Along with Benoit, seniors Christopher Cahour and Giulio Sassi also saw their careers come to a close on Tuesday.

Cahour’s time in the blue and white is highlighted by his outstanding work ethic both on the court and in the classroom. In 2023, Cahour was named to the PBC Team of Academic Distinction while also earning the PBC Presidential Honor Roll Gold Scholar award and the D2ADA Academic Achievement Award. Recently this season, Cahour won the PBC Elite 18 Award, given to the player with the highest overall grade point average of any competitor in the PBC Men’s Tennis Championship.

For Sassi, the Mendrisio, Switzerland native finished his career with his best season as a senior. Back in March, Sassi was named the PBC Men’s Tennis Player of the Week after going 4-0 combined in singles and doubles during the week. His play was highlighted by his first win over a nationally ranked opponent against No. 22 Sebastian Rondon of West Florida. At the end of the year, Sassi was named to the PBC All-Conference Second Team for Singles after going 11-8 on the year.

Improving on a 9-9 season in the 2022-23 campaign, 14 wins this year for head coach Kent Norsworthy and UNG serves as the third best single-season turnaround in program history. It’s also the 10th season in program history with double-digit victories as a team. Seven of those 10 seasons include 14 or more wins.