Lions tally 23rd straight season without an NJAC loss

The women’s tennis team captured the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title for the twenty-third consecutive season after defeating Kean University last Friday.

Finishing 5-0 for the season, the Lions dominated each team with a 9-0 score in all five matches. The win also tallies consecutive NJAC win No. 111 for the Lions.

The streak has been alive since Lions tennis was introduced into the conference in 1982. Over the course of 24 years, three coaches, and 26 All-Americans, the Lions have managed to stay on top and dominate the NJAC.

“This is the second straight year that we have won all of the matches 9-0 and we haven’t dropped a single set either,” head coach Scott Dicheck said. “We have managed to continue the streak by recruiting the right type of player making us able to be the strongest team in the NJAC.”

Not only did the Lions beat Kean 9-0, but they also only gave up five individual games in both singles and doubles play.

Sophomore Christina Contrafatto, who was also named NJAC player of the week to add on to her recent naming of All-American, crushed sophomore Angela Hamilton of Kean 6-0, 6-0 in first singles.

Freshman Haley Kutner continued the annihilation at second singles, defeating junior Andrea Vago 6-0, 6-0. Kutner, who was also named NJAC rookie of the week earlier in the season, has managed to have a perfect regular season, going 9-0 in the conference and 5-0 in the Lions’ Kickoff Tournament.

“I have been working towards being a collegiate tennis player for a long time and it is really rewarding to see how the hard work paid off,” Kutner said. “It is a great feeling to know that you were a big part in helping to win the conference and being able to do so as a freshman is something I am really proud of.”

In third singles, senior captain Jackie Gavornik held sophomore Danielle Fardin of Kean to a 6-1, 6-1 score. Sophomore Ariel Donohue destroyed sophomore Kate Kuchar 6-0, 6-0 at fourth singles. In fifth singles, junior Karen Shih continued the trend, dishing out another 6-0, 6-0 win against senior Amanda Gamez.

Freshman Erica Ollinick finished out the singles ladder with a dominant 6-0, 6-1 win over sophomore Laura Kuchar at sixth singles.

Unfortunately for Kean, the pounding did not end there, as the Lions gave up only two games to the Cougars in doubles play.

Contrafatto and Gavornik paired at first doubles to take down Hamilton and Kate Kuchar in an 8-0 one-sided battle. In second doubles, Kutner and freshman Lindsay Katzel edged past Vago and Fardin by an 8-1 margin. Shih and sophomore Kimberly Lee Lum rounded out the competition at third doubles by demolishing Kate Kuchar and Gamez 8-1.

“All in all, I think we did really well; this is the strongest team that we’ve had in a long time,” Gavornik said. “It’s great because we push each other a lot. We have so much talent that I was happy to even make the lineup this year.”

On the men’s side, several Lions competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Regional Tournament this past weekend.

No. 2 seeded sophomore Mike Klimchak advanced the furthest for the Lions, reaching the quarterfinals of the competition. He went 3-1 for the weekend, getting upset in the opening quarterfinal match to sophomore Mikhail Gurevich of New York University 3-6, 4-6.

Sophomore Eric Ferriere also fell to Gurevich in the third singles match 4-6, 2-6 to end his run at the title. Junior Corey Ball joined Ferriere in the third round of singles as he fell to Vassar College’s No. 4 seeded player, junior Erik Skartvedt 6-2, 1-6, 3-6.

“All the players had a good performance in the tournament, however we were all pretty disappointed that no one advanced all the way through,” Dicheck said. “It is a difficult tournament, but we still expected that someone would do it, especially since the team played pretty well.”

All five of the Lions’ entries won their first singles round. Freshman Roger Mosteller and senior Justin Cook both fell in the second set to their respective opponents.

“We were all pretty disappointed because the whole team could have had a better showing,” Klimchak said. “We had pretty tough draws and I don’t think we showed what we are capable of doing. As for me, based on seeding, I should have went to the finals; I was playing well but (Gurevich) played one of his best matches ever and he deserved to win.”

Last on the Lions’ fall schedule will be the ITA National Championships where Contrafatto will compete in Fort Myers, Fla. against the other seven regional winners on Oct. 13-16.