The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Game, Set, MAAC

Men’s tennis claims its first MAAC Conference title
Quinnipiac Athletics

When asked in his pre-season interview whether he thinks his team can win the MAAC this year, senior Shaurya Sood answered, “Yeah, no doubt.” 

Two months later to the day, his words proved true as Quinnipiac men’s tennis raised its first ever MAAC Championship trophy, after a decade of trying. 

“Last summer, I sent a message to our full roster, before they even got to school,” head coach Bryan Adinolfi said. “I told them that the journey to winning the MAAC starts now.”

Despite a rocky preseason, the Bobcats soon found their groove with a dominating 8-2 record on their new home courts.  

“The timing of us peaking, where we could put six guys playing their best tennis of the season, to pull it off … (it’s) a great feeling for sure,” Adinolfi said. 

It didn’t come easily. The Bobcats had to fight tooth and nail against Marist to even advance to the championship game. 

“(Marist) gave us a real challenge in our first home court match,” Adinolfi said. “We were down in every singles match and we came back. (That’s when) I saw the fight and this mentality of never giving up. I saw our guys, for the first time, have that kind of fight, that really is all that I was asking for.” 

The Red Foxes clawed the doubles point away from the Bobcats — the pairs of freshmen Carlos Braun Simo and Finn Burridge, and seniors Donovan Brown and Ayato Arakaki fell to Marist 6-7, 6-8 and 5-7 in the tie-break respectively. 

“It was extremely close, we had six match points and we weren’t able to get (it),” Adinolfi said. 

To answer, Burridge and graduate student Daniel Velek — MAAC Player of the Year — took under an hour to give the Bobcats a small 2-1 lead, both winning in straight sets. 

However, Braun Simo and Sood fell quickly after, before Brown tied the game for the Bobcats at 3-3. It all came down to the team captain Arakaki, who, playing well past 9 p.m., battled for close to three hours to give the Bobcats their fourth MAAC Championship appearance — even when all the odds were stacked against him. 

“(Arakaki) played an amazing three set thriller, he played the set of his life,” Adinolfi said. “We had to use the lights, and there was a power surge and the light went out. And there was a 25 minute break because they couldn’t turn the lights back on, so there was a lot of things working against us.” 

That game earned the senior captain the title of 2024 Most Outstanding Performer.

Quinnipiac’s final opponent turned out to be Fairfield, the regular season champions and the only team it had lost to in the conference. 

“Tennis is grueling,” Adinolfi said. “There’s a lot of pressure. What I said before the match is, in one sense this is just us playing one tennis match and it’s just a game. But at the same time, this is our life. I told them, ‘Don’t be afraid to let your desire come through and dictate how you play the match.’” 

And to start, the Bobcats once again lost the doubles point. That one point, seemingly insignificant, can very easily change the tides of the game, because as Adinolfi noted, it makes the difference between winning three singles matches or four. 

Not that it really mattered in this case. Sood breezed past his opponent 6-0 and 6-2 to tie the game early. 

Braun Simo turned his match around after falling in the first set 6-7, allowing Fairfield’s senior Keean Shan only one more game and winning the next two sets 6-1, 6-0. His New Zealand native doubles partner clawed out his own close win 6-4, 7-6 to put the Bobcats into a 3-1 lead.

Even though Velek lost his match, it didn’t matter. Brown tipped the scales for Quinnipiac and secured that fourth point to clinch the MAAC Championship and receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament — for the first time since 2010, when Quinnipiac still belonged to the NEC Conference. 

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Adinolfi said. “It’s hard to explain, I’m still sort of processing the fact that we won the whole thing.”

The Bobcats await April 29 when the NCAA Tournament Division I Selection Show at 6 p.m. determines their next destination and opponent. 

“We’re gonna enjoy and celebrate the win, take a couple of days off and then get back to the courts,” Adinolfi said. “We’re gonna work towards putting Quinnipiac on the map for college tennis.” 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Alexandra Martinakova
Alexandra Martinakova, Editor-in-Chief

Comments (0)

All The Quinnipiac Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *