Long Island Women Top Fairleigh Dickinson For Second Straight NEC Tennis Crown;
Quinnipiac Men Deny Sacred Heart’s Bid To Repeat
No. 3 seed Quinnipiac denied top-seeded Sacred Heart a second consecutive men's title by edging the defending champions, 4-3, in an NEC final that showcased both halves of the Merritt Parkway rivalry. By defeating its Nutmeg State neighbor, Quinnipiac captured its fourth Northeast Conference crown since joining the league in 1999. The Bobcats, who have qualified for the NEC title match five times in the last seven years, won three consecutive championships from 2004 to 2006.
It all came down to the No. 6 singles match. With the team score knotted at 3-3, Quinnipiac senior Charlie Feldman (Easton, CT/Joel Barlow) completed a comeback victory over sophomore Chad Sullo (Orange, CT/Amity) to send the Bobcats and head coach Mike Quitko back to the Big Dance for the first time since 2006. Feldman, who was still in high school when Quinnipiac completed its mid-2000s run of three straight team titles, was facing an opponent who did not lose a set during SHU's quarterfinal and semifinal round triumphs. Sullo continued his streak by taking the first set from Feldman, but the Quinnipiac senior battled back for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 title-clinching victory.
Quinnipiac struck first by taking the doubles point before Sacred Heart won three of the first four singles matches completed. With the Bobcats needing to win at both No. 4 and No. 6 singles to take the title, sophomore Garrett Lane (Reading, MA/Pingree School) completed the first half of the equation when he defeated Nick Mazzarese (Stonington, CT/Stonington) in a second-set tiebreaker, 6-4, 7-6 (3). Then the focus shifted to Feldman who was closing in on winning the lone three-set match of the title tilt.
After coming away empty-handed from each of five consecutive trips to the NEC final, Long Island has captured back-to-back women’s crowns. The No. 2 seed Blackbirds, who were facing someone other than Quinnipiac for the first time in seven straight trips to the title match, took down top-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson, 4-2, on Sunday afternoon. Just as it did in last year's championship triumph over Quinnipiac, LIU opened by taking the doubles point.
Senior Selma Babic (Zenica, Bosnia/Clemson) brought the Blackbirds one point closer to the title when she defeated FDU senior Julija Korshunova (Riga, Latvia), 6-2, 6-1, to win for the sixth straight time in NEC Tournament play at No. 1 singles. The reigning NEC Player of the Year, who entered the postseason having won 10 consecutive singles contests, upped her season record in to a league-best 19-1. It was another senior who sealed it for LIU. With the Blackbirds holding a 3-2 edge in the team score, veteran Stephanie Elie (Fresh Meadow, NY/UMass) completed a straight-sets win, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), over FDU senior Jessica DeCarlos (Eastampton, NJ/Rancocas Valley) and the celebration ensued for head coach Asi Phillips and his team.