WEST WINDSOR, NJ (April 16, 2011) - The Sacred Heart men's tennis team will make their third-straight apperance in the Northeast Conference Tennis Championship Match on Sunday morning thanks to a 4-2 win over the Monmouth Hawks Saturday afternoon in a grueling match that lasted three hours and 43 minutes. The Pioneers will face-off in a rematch of last year's final facing NEC rival Quinnipiac for the title and bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Saturday's match marked the third-straight season SHU and Monmouth have met in the NEC Tournament. The Pioneers beat Monmouth in the Championship Match in 2009 and defeated the Hawks in last year's semifinals.
The Pioneers got the day started off right by taking the doubles point and a 1-0 lead into singles play. SHU's third doubles team of seniors Cole Conrad (Fairfield, CT) and Nick Mazzarese (Stonington, CT) wrapped up the Pioneers first win, defeating Amar Subasic and Steve Suboleski. The Pioneers grabbed the doubles point with a win at #2 doubles. The senior team of Chris Ujkic (Mattituck, NY) and Michael Syer (Oakville, Ontario) led 7-4 over Harveer Bhalla and David Sherwood and broke MU's serve for the win and the 1-0 start.
Sacred Heart senior Kirill Kasyanov (Yonkers, NY) set the tone for the Pioneers in singles play winning his 20th-straight match on the year with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Laurence Heads. Conrad gave the Pioneers a 3-0 lead, needing just one more match to advance, thanks to his win at #6.
Conrad defeated Suboleski 6-1 and 6-2 to put the Pioneers in the driver's seat. The Hawks, however, refused to go quietly and pulled within 3-2 as Bhalla and Sherwood each won three-set matches. Bhalla beat Mazzarese at #3 in the first set 6-2 but dropped the second to the SHU senior 6-3 before rebounding in the third, 6-4. Sherwood posted 6-1 and 6-1 wins in sets one and three over Syer at #4 to put the focus back on the remaining two singles matches.
It would be at # 5 singles where the Pioneers would clinch it as junior Chadd Sullo (Orange, CT) won a three-set thriller over Ian Terpilowski. The two battled their way through the opening set with Terpilowski eventually pulling it out 7-6 (7-5). Sullo rebounded in the second with a 6-3 win and forced the deciding third.
Sullo would lead 5-0 in the third set and appeared headed for victory before a late charge by Terp who broke server twice to pull within 5-4. Sullo would regain his edge and closed it out, 6-4, to send the Pioneers back to the title match.
The Bobcats advanced to the championship match thanks to a 4-2 win over Fairleigh Dickinson. QU denied the Pioneers their second NEC title last season, beating SHU 4-3 in the final. The two teams met earlier this season with Sacred Heart posting a 5-2 win at home.
NEC Video - Head Coach Paul Gagliardi
NEC Video - Junior Chadd Sullo