By Connor Smith
Social Media Editor
The men’s tennis team finalized its case for an NCAA Tournament bid with a shutout win on Wednesday, April 27, against Kutztown University.
The Lions — following their Monday, April 25, loss to the Stevens University Ducks — improved their overall record to 10-6. The College also honored seniors Pierce Cooper and Jason Prezant before the match.
“No matter how much you love your team, there will always be ups and downs,” Prezant said. “This team knows how to stick together and fight in the lowest moments, even when down match point… I have enjoyed every second with my teammates, whether it was spent traveling on a bus for hours at a time to matches or grabbing food in Eick after a long practice. Every single player on this team has had a significant influence on me.”
The Lions pounced on the Kutztown University Golden Bears in doubles competition. Freshman Mitchel Sanders and Cooper extended their combined winning streak to seven games with an 8-3 win on court one.
Junior Mike Stanley and Prezant continued their success on court two with an 8-1 win. The Lions ended doubles with a 3-0 lead, due to a Golden Bears forfeit on court three.
“One reason why our team has stayed so strong through illnesses is because people on our team play their heart out during practice,” Prezant said. “When one of our top players is dealing with an illness and needs time off, the other players are ready to move up into the starting roster and get into the action.”
In singles, Cooper walked onto his home court one for the final time in his collegiate career. The senior dropped his first set, 5-2, forcing him to collect himself for a 6-3 set two win. In his final set, Cooper was pushed to his limit, but he eventually won the tiebreaker, 10-5.
With Cooper’s win, the Lions clinched their 10th and final regular season victory, as the fifth point came from another Golden Bears forfeit on court six. The Lions were poised to earn their fifth shutout of the regular season.
Junior Jack August — having recovered from an illness — looked ready for NCAAs with a win in straight sets on court two (6-2, 6-1).
Sophomore Chris D’Agostino extended the College’s lead to 7-0 with wins in straight sets (6-3, 6-2), while freshman Omar Bokhari earned his eighth win of the season on court four (6-3, 6-0).
With his team’s shutout hopes on his back, freshman Tim Gavornik did not concede a single game, earning the College’s final win on court five (6-0, 6-0).
“Closing out any match with a complete shutout always gives us confidence, especially moving forward,” Prezant said. “However, this match against Kutztown was the last match of our regular season. As a senior, this match meant everything to compete in.”
With the win, the College improved to 10-6 on the year. The men will compete in the NCAA Regional Tournament on Thursday, May 12, and Friday, May 13. As for the coveted National Tournament, players are confident they’ll receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament, according to Dicheck.
“You never know because it’s a committee that chooses,” Dicheck said. “Based on our ranking, I would be shocked (if we didn’t make it).”
Although the men must wait on a committee decision, the women’s tennis team punched its ticket with a New Jersey Athletic Conference win in the Fall 2015 season.
“Making Nationals is an extremely difficult achievement for any team,” Prezant said. “Although we are all anxious to see if all of our hard work has earned us a spot in Nationals, all we can do is continue practicing with 110 percent effort until the big announcement is made.”