WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – After earning the doubles point, the second-seeded Monmouth University men’s tennis team earned three singles wins to down third-seeded Niagara, 4-2, Saturday afternoon in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships Semifinals. The Hawks, playing in their first-ever MAAC Tournament, takes on top-seeded and defending champions Marist tomorrow at 10 a.m. for a chance to clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
“Today was tough but our guys did not give in and really played with more fight and urgency than I have seen all year,” commented Head Coach Cory Hubbard. “We talked about being mentally tough and extra energy last night and it proved to be the difference.”
After an hour delay to the start of the match due to a wet court surface, the Blue and White opened up play by coming from behind to win the doubles point. After falling at No. 2, the No. 1 tandem of Victor Pugliese (Boulogne, France/CNED [San Diego]) and Christian Vieira (Houston, Texas/Memorial), who were named to the All-MAAC Second Team, downed Michael Elortegui and Michael Belloso 8-3, while first team honorees Bee Kumthonkittikul (Bangkok, Thailand/Pendleton School) and Przemyslaw Filipek (Bedzin, Poland/Second Lo [Silesia]) edged Lorenz Schwojer and Joseph Smithyman, 8-4, at No. 3 to put MU ahead 1-0.
Vieira began singles action with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Smithyman at No. 6 followed by Pugliese, the MAAC Player of the Year, topping Elortegui 6-3, 6-1 at No. 1 to push the Hawks ahead 3-0. Niagara got on the board by scoring wins at No. 4 and No. 5, but Filipek sealed the match victory with his 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 triumph over Inaki Belloso at No. 2.
“I talked about playing for a championship since the first day I was hired and these players have worked so hard to build something special,” commented Hubbard. “We are excited for this opportunity tomorrow. We lost a tough match to Marist 4-3 for the MAAC Regular Season Title so we know it will be tough but we should be confident knowing we were just a few points away.”
The Hawks, playing it their first title match since 2012, will look to make the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Tennis Match Results
Niagara University vs Monmouth University
Apr 26, 2014 at MAAC Championship
Monmouth 4, Niagara 2
1. Pugliese, Victor (MU) def. Elortegui, Michael (NIA) 6-3, 6-1
2. Filipek, Przemyslaw (MU) def. Belloso, Inaki (NIA) 7-6 (7-2), 6-4
3. Kumthonkittikul, Bee (MU) vs. Raymond, David (NIA) 0-6, 7-5, 2-2, unfinished
4. Dufour-Coursol, O. (NIA) def. Marcinkowski, Freddy (MU) 6-4, 6-1
5. Schwojer, Lorenz (NIA) def. Adamus, Luke (MU) 7-5, 6-3
6. Vieira, Christian (MU) def. Smithyman, Joseph (NIA) 6-0, 6-0
1. Pugliese, Victor/Vieira, Christian (MU) def. Elortegui, Michael/Belloso, Inaki (NIA) 8-3
2. Dufour-Coursol, O./Raymond, David (NIA) def. Bekhiet, Ramy/Marcinkowski, Freddy (MU) 8-1
3. Kumthonkittikul, Bee/Filipek, Przemyslaw (MU) def. Schwojer, Lorenz/Smithyman, Joseph (NIA) 8-4
Niagara University 12-11
Monmouth University 16-7
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,1,4,5,2)