FAIRFIELD, Conn – It's that time of the year again for Sacred Heart tennis. The Sacred Heart Men's and Women's tennis teams begin their 2014 Spring campaign Saturday night with a matchup against the NJIT Highlanders at Yale University.
Head Coach Paul Gagliardi is in his eighth season at the helm of SHU tennis, while Coach Mike Guastelle will begin his 20th Spring leading the Sacred Heart women's tennis program.
The Sacred Heart men's tennis team went 2-4 in the Northeast Conference last season, with wins over Saint Francis University and St Francis Brooklyn. The Pioneers' season the finished with a loss to Fairleigh Dickinson in the quarterfinals of the NEC Tournament. The Pioneers defeated Wagner 4-0 in the first round of the conference tournament, before falling to FDU. Against Wagner, Sacred Heart secured the doubles point and got wins from Brian Power (Pelham, NY), Kevin Budrawich (New Canaan, CT), and Jeremy Shuskus to secure the win.
The Pioneers were led by Justin Pagan (Flushing, NY) last season, who was the only Pioneer to register a record over .500 in dual matches. After moving from number one singles to the number two slot, the junior went 8-3. Pagan, along with Matt Dean (Newington, CT) were 3-3 in conference singles matches last season.
The women's tennis team is already 1-0 this season, after defeating Monmouth 6-1 on October 2nd.
Katie DeRienzo (Douglaston, NY) and Gabi Kaldan (New Brunswick, NJ) led the way in the Fall for Sacred Heart. Both, DeRienzo and Kaldan, registered singles records over .500 with DeRienzo leading the way with a record of 7-4. DeRienzo's most successful tournament run came at the Quinnipiac Invitational where she made it all the way to the semi-finals of the A Singles Flight. The sophomore knocked off players from Niagara, Navy and Seton Hall on her way to the final four.
Last season, Coach Guastelle's squad made it to the semi-finals of the NEC Tournament before falling to Fairleigh Dickinson. The Pioneers knocked off Bryant in the quarterfinals.