BUFFALO, NY - The 2011 Buffalo men's tennis team rose from an early season slump to claim the Mid-American Conference's regular season title, earning the top seed en route to a second place finish. Despite the fact that five of the six teams vying for the regular season crown owned winning records, the Bulls took it home with a 4-1 record (11-10 overall) after starting the season 1-7.
Freshman Damien David went 25-7 (5-0 MAC) despite playing first singles. His 25 wins are the most for any player in a single season in school history, taking the top spot from Nikesh Singh Panthlia, who won 24 in 2008. For his efforts, David was named the MAC's newcomer of the year and was a part of the six-man all-conference team. He also earned the Northeast Region's Rookie of the Year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Junior Vusa Hove, a second-team All-MAC honoree in 2011, also scored a 20-win regular season with a 21-5 record. At second singles, Hove went 14-1, winning his last 11 contests and posting an undefeated MAC record at 5-0 to join David on the MAC's first team all-conference. Playing at number three singles, Starakiewicz, a two-time All-MAC First Team recipient, won a career-best 18 matches in 2012 in his senior campaign to make the conference's postseason second team.
In all, UB's top four singles players also enjoyed great success during the regular season, including winning 17 of 19 matches against league foes.
The singles standouts were pressured right off the bat in the MAC tournament, as the Bulls fell behind Ball State 3-1 in the semifinal round. Hove took a three-set victory at number two singles, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to clinch the match, but it was the efforts of freshman Ivan Vereshchaga that kept the team's chances afloat. After dropping his first set at number four singles, Ivan rebounded to sweep the final two sets for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win to tie the match 3-3.
With a second finals appearance in the past three seasons, the Bulls were unable to clinch the tournament title, but have high hopes for the 2012-13 season. Returning all but two players from last season, fans can expect even more excitement from UB in the upcoming year.