In a final test of skill, the Baruch men’s tennis team overpowered their rival Hunter College, 5-1, in the CUNYAC Tournament Championship match played last Thursday at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens. Baruch finally made up for the loss against Hunter in the finals last season. This is the Bearcats 15th victory this season, and it’s their first championship title since 2009. The team also clinched a berth for the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament, set to begin on Friday, May 11.
In honor and memory of former team player Lukas Bircic, who passed away in a motorcycle accident in Croatia during Memorial Day weekend last year, the Baruch men’s tennis team wore t-shirts with his name on them.
Head Coach Florin Giuglescu was happy with the way the team performed against Hunter, but believes they have the capacity to play even better than they played on Thursday. “Hunter was good preparation for what is to come,” Giuglescu said. “However, I must say that the doubles matches were close and I hope that the team learns from their mistakes.”
The Bearcats took the doubles matches with a 2-1 lead. Sophomore Phillip Bleustein and freshman Joe Laskowski won their doubles match 8-4. Junior Christopher Jenkins and senior Stephan Muller were even more dominant and won 8-1. Finally, junior Artem Gorbachevskiy and junior Guy Goren were not as luck, they lost a close game by the score 8-7 (7-4). In singles, Jenkins won his match easily with the score 6-1, 6-0. Laskowski’s match was almost as lopsided. He won 6-1, 6-1.
Muller earned the title of Most Valuable Player when his match against Kapetanakis ended in Muller securing the fifth point for the championship win and a score of 6-1, 6-3. Because the contest is called off after one team scores the fifth point, Gorbachevskiy, Goren and Bleustein had their singles game called off.
Gorbackevskiy lost the first set 3-6, and was tied at 5 in the second. Goren was still playing his first set, he was down 5-6. Bleustein on the other hand won his first set 7-5 and was on his way to a victory in the second with a 4-0 lead.
On Monday, May 7, at 10:00PM, the 40-team bracket, field and locations will be announced for the entire NCAA tournament, including the Bearcats on the NCAA website..
Coach Giuglescu thinks motivation and power of will are the keys to success in the NCAA tournament. “The coming match will be decided by who wants it more,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes and the team is excited to take their talents to the NCAA Tournament because they know what it took to get to where they are now.”
He also emphasized the importance of toughness, being resilient while at the same time keeping your composure. “It’s important that we remain calm, take a deep breath and play hard,” he said. Giuglescu praised his teams performance and his players for their great play during the season. “My players have made many sacrifices throughout the season,” he said. “An observer may think the game looks very easy but you only know how hard it is once you play. It is not easy to maintain position against a superior team.”
Finally, coach Giuglescu made a bold prediction about the Bearcats. “We will pull through, I am confident in the abilities of my players. This team is the number one in the country.”