NORFOLK (WAVY) – The Old Dominion men’s tennis team captured its first ever Sun Belt Conference tournament championship over the weekend by defeating South Alabama.

It’s ODU’s first conference title in five years and first since the Monarchs were members of Conference USA.

ODU will take a seven match winning streak into the NCAA Tournament.

Comprised entirely of foreign players, coach Dominik Mueller’s team is a close knit group.

Six of his ten players also happen to be fifth year seniors.

“We have an experienced team, but when it comes to the NCAA Tournament we have an inexperienced team,” coach Mueller said. “The biggest thing over the next few weeks is to not deviate from what we have done.”

A lot teams in sports talk about battling adversity and the Monarchs have battled plenty of it.

Luca Maldoner suffered a knee injury last April, but he’s back and his match clinched ODU’s conference tournament win.

Then there’s Nicola Vidal. 18 months ago the senior from Italy was struck by a car in a parking lot, leaving him bloody and battered.

Because of blood loss, the injury was life threatening. But Vidal has worked himself back onto the court and he would love nothing more than to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.

“It makes it so much more special, we really deserved it,” Vidal said. “It’s the perfect outcome for a difficult journey and it makes it more rewarding.”

“It’s incredible,” Mueller said. “Thinking that he’s on the court, he had a full season, played in a championship match, it just speaks to his character and determination.”

Vidal added, “It’s really the perfect end for our college careers, but we’re not done yet,”

Based on what Vidal and the Monarchs have been through to this point, don’t count them out.