NORTH ANDOVER, MA- The Merrimack men's tennis team claimed its third-ever victory and second-straight in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a 5-1 win over Chestnut Hill in the first round Sunday afternoon. The third-seeded Warriors improve to 15-4 on the season, setting a program low for losses in a season.
With the victory, no. 3 Merrimack advances to play the winner of no. 2 NYIT and no. 7 Southern New Hampshire at 10 am at North Andover High School on Monday.
"Our team played extremely hard today to earn the win and we are looking forward to tomorrow," said head coach Sean Tully. "For the second-straight season we will be playing for a opportunity to play in the Sweet 16 which is a great feeling but we must keep focused tomorrow in order to make that leap."
The Warriors jumped out quick on the Griffins as they took the opening two doubles points. The no. 3 duo of Miguel Belfort (Caracas, Venezuela) and Petar Golijanin (Novi Sad, Serbia) cruised past their opponents by the score of 8-3 while the dynamic duo of Chris Barnhart (Longmeadow, Mass.) and Vince Bellino (Amesbury, Mass.) pulled out the 9-7 victory. The top pairing of Yoann Pham and Steven Say didn't allow the Warriors to take all three matches as they downed Merrimack's top pairing of Matt Lipinski (Arlington, Mass.) and Matt Pronesti (Mission Viejo, Calif.) by the score of 9-7.
Bellino extended the hosts' advantage to 3-1 early on in singles action as he prevailed at the no. 5 singles position 6-3, 6-1. Lipinski put the Warriors on the verge of victory next as he came back from a deficit in the opening set and downed Anthony Moore by the score of 6-4, 6-1.
Belfort clinched the win for the Warriors with the deciding 6-2, 6-2 victory in the no. 1 singles spot.
The Warriors are competing in their sixth-straight and sixth-ever NCAA Tournament. Merrimack's two other victories in the NCAA Tournament came in the 2009 and 2012. The Warriors defeated Adelphi 5-4 in 2009 and downed the Bentley Falcons 5-0 last season in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
1. Say/Pham (CHC) def. Pronesti/Lipinski (MC) 9-7
2. Barnhart/Bellino (MC) def. Moore/Taylor (CHC) 9-7
3. Belfort/Golijanin (MC) def. Humes/Ceniceros (CHC) 8-3
1. Miguel Belfort (MC) def. Mike Humes (CHC) 6-2, 6-2
2. Matt Pronesti (MC) vs. Yoann Pham (CHC) 2-6, 0-3 DNF
3. Matt Lipinski (MC) def. Anthony Moore (CHC) 6-4, 6-1
4. Chris Barnhart (MC) vs. Steven Say (CHC) 6-2, 5-0 DNF
5. Vince Bellino (MC) def. Kevin Taylor (CHC) 6-3, 6-1
6. Petar Golijanin (MC) vs. Manuel Ceniceros (CHC) 4-6, 3-1 DNF