NORTH ANDOVER, MA- The Merrimack men's tennis team captured its first-ever Northeast-10 Tournament Championship Saturday afternoon, downing Bentley 5-1 in the finals. The Warriors match a team-record with their 17th victory on the season as they improved to 17-7 on the year. The Falcons fall to 15-6 overall with the loss.
Merrimack earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the championship win. The Warriors will be making their fifth-straight and fifth-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament when the NCAA Tournament Selection Show airs April 24 on www.ncaa.com.
"The overriding theme for our team this year was to do everything it took to be our best and have no regrets on our preparation. From day one it was our goal to win the NE-10 title and we set goals to help us accomplish it. The team pushed themselves to the limit with intense on and off court training, long trips to non-conference opponents, and double the amount of winter practice time," said head coach Sean Tully. "I could not be prouder of the way the team pushed themselves throughout a long season to continue to improve. This culminated in our best play of the season coming when it meant the most, to win our first NE-10 Championship. We look forward to continue to improve this week going into challenge the best teams in the country in the NCAA tournament."
The hosts owned a 2-1 lead at the start of singles play after capturing two doubles victories on the day. Vince Bellino (Amesbury, MA) and Chris Barnhart (Longmeadow, MA) picked up an 8-2 win at the No. 2 position. Merrimack's top pair of Max Eppley (Malaga, Spain) and Sean Pahler (Rumson, NJ) posted a 7-3 victory in a tiebreaker to claim the No. 1 match 9-8.
The Warriors prevailed in three singles matches to seal their first Northeast-10 Tournament Title in three appearances in the finals.
Eppley earned a 6-2, 6-4 win at the second singles slot. Chris Toegemann (Narragansett, RI) notched a 6-4, 6-2 victory at the No. 6 spot. Pahler clinched the match as he prevailed 6-4, 6-3 at the No. 5 singles position.
1. Eppley/Pahler (MER) def. Tuckman/Ribeiro (BEN) 9-8 (3)
2. Bellino/Barnhart (MER) def. Spycher/Tanna (BEN) 8-2
3. Suski/Wever (BEN) def. Golijanin/Toegemann (MER) 8-2
1. Barnhart (MER) vs. Wever (BEN) unfinished
2. Eppley (MER) def. Tuckman (BEN) 6-2, 6-4
3. Golijanin (MER) vs. Ribeiro (BEN) unfinished
4. Bellino (MER) vs. Rindo (BEN) unfinished
5. Pahler (MER) def. Spycher (BEN) 6-4, 6-3
6. Toegemann (MER) def. Waddington (BEN) 6-4, 6-2