The stakes for UB Men's Tennis were clear entering today's regular-season finale: win and in (and temporarily avoid Western Michigan). Lose, and put your postseason fate in Binghamton's hands.
On Day One of the MAC Slate, UB opened an early lead and held on until a late win from Tony Miller pushed them over the top. Since then, Binghamton has been red-hot, and today challenged the Bulls more than the 5-2 final score shows.
UB roared out to an early lead in doubles, as Akhil Mehta and Tony Miller easily won at #3, and Sergio Arevalillo and Ethan Nittolo held a commanding 4-1 lead at #2. A break against the second pairing and a 3-3 match for Pablo Alvarez and Amar Hromic at #1 looked like the Bearcats could comeback, but UB got a break of their own at #1 to take a 5-3 lead, #2 held a 5-4 lead, and the next update had the Bulls up 1-0, holding the doubles point.
Singles broke poorly for UB early, even as Hromic quickly won at straight sets to put the Bulls up 2-0. Only Pablo Alvarez also won his first set, from #2 with Sergio Arevalillo moved up to #1 singles for the first time all season.
As the match went on UB won second sets to even two remaining matches, while Tony Miller fell at #6, and Pablo Alvarez couldn't close out a narrow second set, also heading to a swing set with Buffalo leading 2-1. The Bulls had come back to level, with the doubles point providing the difference, and needed to only split the four remaining matches, three in third sets to claim the win and a postseason berth.
Alvarez was the first to finish, ending Eliot Hureau's day with a 6-3 final set to put UB one team point away. At the time, Arevalillo was leading Sid Hazarika looking for a big comeback win at #1, and Nittolo had a solid 4-1 lead in his third set, also looking for a comeback win. The freshman was the first to finish and ice the win for Buffalo, but Sergio capped his own comeback and win just moments later.
The win was what we hoped to see from the Bulls all year: strong, experienced, top-of-the-lineup power. Even with Arevalillo's bemusing debut at #1 and troubling first set, UB swept the #1 through #3 singles points and got an insurance win from underclass talent in the lower half, as well.
With the win, UB guarantees itself a spot in the MAC Tournament regardless of remaining matches, and also will avoid conference-leader WMU until a potential Championship match. Depending on the two (relevant) remaining matches, the Bulls could face any of Ball State, NIU, or Binghamton, but claim the #2 seed with a Binghamton win over NIU or a (
very unlikely) Toledo victory over Ball State. They only drop to #3 with NIU and Ball State victories.
The tiebreakers are different than I thought. I'll update this space with appropriate information later tonight. UB's recap of the day is available here.
As always, sets in parentheses are the score the last time I was updated:
1. Alvarez/Hromic (UB) vs Hazarika/Cestarollo (BING); 6-3
2. Arevalillo/Nittolo (UB) vs Kote/Caputo (BING); 6-4
3. Mehta/Miller (UB) def. Hureau/Druger (BING); 6-0
1. Arevalillo (UB) def. Hazarika (BING); 0-6, 7-6, 6-3
2. Alvarez (UB) def. Hureau (BING); 6-1, 5-7, 6-3
3. Hromic (UB) def. Cestarollo (BING); 6-1, 6-2
4. Caputo (BING) def. Mehta (UB); 7-6, 6-4
5. Nittolo (UB) def. Bouchet (BING); 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
6. Kote (BING) def. Miller (UB); 7-5, 6-1