Bulls Rally For Semifinal Win; Fall in MAC Title Match
Trailing 3-1 with three matches still to be decided, the top-seeded Bulls made a furious run to clinch the final matches and move into the Mid-American Conference Championship match with a 4-3 win over Ball State. Unfortunately, the Bulls (11-10) were unable to keep the momentum and fell to Western Michigan for the second time in three years in the finals, 4-0.
Hove Gets Clincher to Propel Bulls to Finals
In UB's semifinal against Ball State, Vusa Hove clinched the final point with his three-set victory over Dalton Albertin, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. For Hove, it was his 12th consecutive singles victory and Hove's second time of putting the Bulls into the championship match in his career. As a freshman in 2010, Hove scored the clinching point in UB's semifinal win over Toledo. With the Bulls trailing 3-1, Wojciech Starakiewicz and Ivan Vereshchaga were instrumental in keeping the ball rolling. Starakiewicz defeated Zane Smith, 6-4, 6-4, to inch the Bulls closer while Vereshchaga came back from a straight-sets loss to Austin Smith in UB's 4-3 regular season loss to the Cardinals to defeat Smith in three sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Senior Alex Kalinin gave UB its first point when he scored a straight-sets win over Patrick Elliott, 7-5, 6-3.
David/Zappia Combine for Doubles Win vs. Western
Rain forced the championship match to move indoors. The Bulls started slow surrendering the doubles point with losses in the number one and three matches. UB scored a doubles win from Damien David and Travis Zappia in the number two match as the tandem defeated Pablo Olivarez and Aaron Wong, 8-5. Zappia, who played at second doubles throughout the season, led the Bulls with 18 doubles wins. He and Starakiewicz combined to go 11-3, the most wins by a tandem, including a 5-0 mark against MAC foes in the regular season.
All-Tournament Honors for Pair
Hove and Kalinin earned All-Tournament recognition. It was the third consecutive season that Kalinin was named to the All-Tournament team as the senior closed out his career with 55 singles victories in four seasons with the Bulls. Hove will have a 12-match winning streak to build upon next season as his match in the finals against WMU's Zeyad Montasser was stopped before completion,
Can't Buck the Broncos
This was the Bulls' second appearance in the MAC Championship match in the past three seasons. The Bulls fell to Western Michigan in the 2010 title match. UB tennis teams have competed in five MAC Championship matches, all against Western Michigan. The women's team defeated the Broncos in the 2008 title match for UB's lone win against WMU in MAC finals.
A Nickell's Worth
Following the completion of the MAC Championship match, head coach Lee Nickell commented on his team and their performance. "It hurts that we lost today but all the credit goes to Western Michigan. It was a battle of mental toughness and they were mentally tougher than we were today," said Nickell. " I couldn't be prouder of this group of guys for fighting like they did to get us into the championship match. I'd like to thank Wojciech Starakiewicz and Alex Kalinin for the three great years they put into this program."