FAIRFIELD, CT - The Sacred Heart men's tennis team has earned the top-seed in the 2011 Northeast Conference Championship set for this weekend, April 15th through 17th at Mercer County Park in West Windsor, NJ. The Pioneer women will be seeded fourth at the event.
The SHU men are 13-7 overall and 5-2 in NEC play this season and will close out the regular season with one last dual match on Tuesday against Saint Peter's before heading to New Jersey this weekend. The Pioneers earn the #1 seed for the second straight season and were the runner-up last year. SHU is looking to capture their second NEC crown after winning the league in 2009.
The Pioneers are led by defending NEC Player of the Year Kirill Kasyanov (Yonkers, NY) who will be entering the tournament on a torrid hot streak. Kasyanov has rattled off 18-straight victories and boasts a 27-6 record this season. He went a perfect 7-0 against the NEC this spring. During the fall, Kasyanov took home the title at the Connecticut Invitational and was the first Pioneer to ever compete in the ITA/D'Nova All-American Tournament.
Also entering the tournament field on a hot streak is junior Chadd Sullo (Orange, CT) who has won seven-straight and is 9-1 in his last 10 matches. Sullo is 16-7 on the year. Seniors Chris Ujkic (Mattituck, NY) and Michael Syer (Oakville, Ontario) each have 14 singles wins this season. Seniors Nick Mazzarese (Stonington, CT) and Cole Conrad (Fairfield, CT) have won 13 and 12 matches, respectively, this season.
In doubles play, the team of Sullo and senior Jacob Miller (West Chesterfield, NH) own a 12-7 mark this season. Kasyanov and Mazzarese each have a team-best 18 wins in doubles play this season.
The Pioneers open play on Friday afternoon facing the winner of the play-in match between #8 seed St. Francis-NY and #9 seed Wagner. Sacred Heart posted wins over Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary's, Quinnipiac and St. Francis-NY this season.
The Sacred Heart women enter the tournament 10-7 and 3-3 in the NEC. SHU will play at Hofstra on Wednesday in their final tune-up before this weekend's tournament kicks-off. The Pioneers are looking to snap a four-match losing streak and has lost three-straight to NEC opponents FDU, Quinnipiac and Long Island.
SHU is on the hunt for their first-ever NEC title this weekend as they open their 2011 tournament run facing the #5 seeded Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers on Friday afternoon. This will be the fourth-straight season the Pioneers and the Mount have met in the quarterfinals. SHU have move on the last two seasons with the Mount winning in 2008.
Junior Kate Donnelly (Centerville, MA) plays in the #1 slot for the Pioneers and sports 12 wins this season, tied for the team-lead. Senior Darcy Demers (Norton, MA) owns a 12-7 record in singles play this year and along with Donnelly are the team's top-doubles players. Donnelly and junior Delaney Downing (Englewood, CO) are a team-best 14-6 this season and are 7-3 over their last 10 matches. Demers and freshman Gabi Kaldan (New Brunswick, NJ) have won 11 matches this season together.
Kaldan leads the team with 18 wins during her rookie year, sporting an 18-9 mark playing at #3 singles. Three other Pioneers have double digit wins this season in senior Elizabeth Harrington (Westerly, RI), junior Kristina Chao (Needham, MA) and Downing, all with 11 victories in singles action.