Bulls conquer feat; regular season champs
The notion of a Mid-American Conference Championship seemed like a pipe dream at the start of the season for the men's tennis team. Coming off a 1-4 record in the MAC last year, it was only reasonable to expect a middle of the pack finish from Buffalo.
On Saturday afternoon, first year head coach Lee Nickell watched his Bulls (12-5, 5-0 MAC) turn that dream into a reality as they defeated the Ball State Cardinals (14-9, 2-1 MAC), 4-3, to win the school's first ever MAC regular season championship. The victory also marked the first time the Bulls have ever beaten the Cardinals.
What makes this season even more impressive is how much the Bulls struggled as a team last year. They finished on a nine-match losing streak and really had to regroup this season.
With so much on the line, the Bulls seemed unaffected by the pressure and took the opening point by winning two of the three doubles matches. The pairing of senior Kirill Kolomyts and junior Marcelo Mazzetto won the opening doubles match, 8-4, over Ball State's Eduardo Pavia and Zane Smith.
To capture the point, the team of sophomore Wojciech Starakiewicz and freshman George Tibil beat the Ball State duo of Andres Monroy and Dalton Albertin, 9-7, and each point proved to be crucial for the Bulls on the day.
After the fast start to the match, the Bulls would take a step back when Starakiewicz fell to Pavia, 7-5, 6-1, to square the match at one point apiece,
Mazzetto would halt the momentum built by the Cardinals as he took care of Ball State's Cliff Morrison in the No. 2 spot, 6-2, 7-6 (6). Kolomyts would follow suit and bury Monroy in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, to give the Bulls' the 3-1 advantage.
Tibil would be the next in line and would have the opportunity to clinch the MAC Championship for the Bulls. Tibil came through and extended his team best MAC record to 5-0 with a straight set victory over the Cardinals Alex Brym, 6-3, 6-0.
Ball State would take the next two matches but it wouldn't be enough to beat the Bulls.
The win against the Cardinals was the third straight for the Bulls and eighth in their last nine matches.
Kolomyts and Mazzetto both extended their singles record in the MAC to 4-2 on the season. The pair also improved to 5-0 on the doubles court as a duo.
The Bulls closed out the regular season with a non-conference battle against Cleveland State. The match took place on Sunday afternoon. Look for full coverage of the match in Wednesday's edition of The Spectrum.
Thursday, April 29 will be the first day of the MAC Championship Tournament and the Bulls look to be a front-runner for the title. Match times are still to be determined.