The Quinnipiac University men’s tennis team advanced to the NEC Championship with a pair of wins Friday and Saturday before being defeated 4-0 by Fairleigh Dickinson Sunday at the Mercer County Tennis Center in West Windsor, N.J.
“I’m really proud of the men,” head coach Mike Quitko said during a phone interview Monday afternoon. “We are a relatively young team and I thought we played very well throughout the tournament.”
On Friday the Bobcats beat No. 7 St. Francis (PA) 4-0. John Hughes, Tom Curran and Joe Nuara won singles matches in straight sets to earn three points. Brian Mikkelson, Sean Pease and Scott Salway led their singles matches one set to none before their matches were suspended because the Bobcats had clinched the win.
In doubles, Mikkelson and Pease won 8-4 and Curran and Nuara won 8-1 to clinch the doubles point for the Bobcats.
“St. Francis gave us more than we thought we’d get,” Quitko said. “My guys rose to the occasion.”
The Bobcats also swept their semi-final matchup with Monmouth 4-0 on Saturday.
“Everytime we play Monmouth it’s a tough match. Last year we beat them in the regular season and lost to them in the playoffs, so we knew what we were in for,” Quitko said. “We went out and did work and got the job done.”
Hughes, Mikkelson and Pease won in straight sets to earn three singles points.
Salway and Hughes joined Curran and Nuara in the win column for doubles, giving the Bobcats the fourth and decisive point to advance to Sunday’s championship against top-seeded FDU.
“FDU is a seasoned good club. We knew it’d be tough,” Quitko said.
In No. 1 singles, Hughes fell 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 against last year’s NEC Player of the Year Philip Stephens.
“He’s probably going to win the award again this year and Hughes took him to three sets,” Quitko said.
“Nuara was leading his match and Mikkelson came all the way back to a second set tie break before his match was called.”
Nuara led 7-5, 3-2 when his match was halted and Mikkelson lost his first set 6-1 and tailed 5-2 in the second set before coming back to tie the set at six.
Mikkelson and Pease fell 8-3 and Nuara and Curran were beaten 8-5, giving the Knights the doubles point. Hughes and Salways led 7-6 when their match was stopped.
“We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. This experience will help us next year.”
The Bobcats will return eight of their nine current players, losing only Salway to graduation this year.