April 26, 2012
2012 Patriot League Men’s Tennis Tournament Central
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – The 2012 Patriot League Men’s Tennis Championship is set for three days of competition beginning Friday from the United States Naval Academy Tennis Courts in Annapolis, Md.
Three quarterfinal matchups are set for Friday’s first day of competition. The schedule starts at 9 a.m., with No. 4 seed Bucknell taking on fifth-seeded Colgate. The second quarterfinal pits second-seeded Lehigh against No. 7 Holy Cross at noon. The last quarterfinal features defending champion Army, the No. 3 seed, taking on sixth-seeded Lafayette at 3 p.m.
Navy, which earned the top seed with a perfect record in Patriot League play, earned the quarterfinal bye and will await the Bucknell-Colgate winner in the semifinals. That match is slated for Saturday at 10 a.m. The other semifinal will feature the winner of Lehigh-Holy Cross taking on the winner of Army-Lafayette at 2 p.m.
Sunday’s championship final is set for 1 p.m. The winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The top-seeded Mids (16-8, 5-0 Patriot League) posted victories over Army, Bucknell, Colgate, Lafayette and Lehigh during the season en route to the No. 1 slot. Navy saw its quest for a fifth straight Patriot League title ended in the semifinals of last year’s tournament to Lehigh, and the Mids could be on a collision course to meet the second-seeded Mountain Hawks this time around as well. Navy featured a pair of All-League honorees on last year’s roster, including Player of the Year Owen Bullard, but both were seniors. This season Marcus Rebersak is the lone senior, and he guides a roster with five freshmen into the tournament. John Officer is in his 27th season as the head coach in Annapolis, and the Mids are seeking their 10th Patriot League title.
Lehigh (12-7, 4-1) survived an emotional 4-3 victory at archrival Lafayette Wednesday afternoon, giving the Mountain Hawks their fourth win against a League opponent in five tries this season. Just like Navy, Lehigh is under the guidance of a veteran head coach in Dave Shook, who is in his 23rd season. The Mountain Hawks bid farewell to two All-League selections last year in seniors Troy List and Collin Laffey, but the younger players have stepped up for Shook, including sophomore Mark Goldberg and freshman Ben Gilman. It was Gilman’s three-set win at No. 2 singles Wednesday that lifted the Mountain Hawks to the win.
One can never count out defending champion Army (14-12, 4-2), which comes into the tournament as the No. 3 seed in 2012. Jim Poling, in his 10th season at West Point, was named Coach of the Year by his peers after leading the Black Knights to the League championship and NCAA Tournament. Sophomore Asika Isoh was named co-MVP of last year’s tournament, and the Black Knights are seeking a similar performance as they take a crack at successfully defending their crown.
Bucknell (9-13, 2-3) is playing some of its best tennis of the season, having won three of its last four entering this weekend’s championship. The Bison posted a 7-2 victory over local rival Bloomsburg Wednesday to complete the regular season. Rebecca Helt’s club is led by the stellar doubles play of Evan Zimmer and Josh Katten, who have won 10 straight matches since being paired up for the March 25th meeting with Navy.
Colgate (9-10, 1-4) heads into the Patriot League Tournament as the No. 5 seed under sixth-year head coach Bobby Pennington. The Raider roster features reigning Rookie of the Year Luke Gensburg, who had a strong season as a freshman in 2011 en route to being recognized by the head coaches. If the regular season meeting was any indication, the Raiders’ meeting with Bucknell in Friday’s quarterfinals could go the distance, as the Bison edged Colgate 4-3 on April 7.
Lafayette (3-11, 1-5) is the No. 6 seed and comes into the tournament following a loss, but the Leopards can take a lot of positives out of Wednesday’s defeat to Lehigh. Lafayette pushed the No. 2 seed in the tournament to the brink in their afternoon contest, and ninth-year head coach Eric Ratchford is seeking that kind of passion and intensity when the Leopards face Army Friday in the quarters.
The field is rounded out by No. 7 seed Holy Cross (1-5, 0-2), which dropped League matches to Army and Lafayette during the regular season. Evan Gaudreau is in his third season as the head coach.
Patriot League Tournament Notebook
YOUR HOST FOR THE WEEKEND
One year after entertaining the field for the women’s bracket, the United States Naval Academy is hosting the 2012 edition of the Patriot League Men’s Tennis Tournament, which takes place over three days at the USNA Tennis Courts in Annapolis, Md. Friday’s quarterfinals are set to being at 9 a.m., Saturday’s semifinals at 10 a.m. and Sunday’s championship final at 1 p.m. In the event that inclement weather forces competition indoors, play will shift to the Tose Family Tennis Center.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
The three-day tournament begins Friday with the first quarterfinal of the day featuring fourth-seeded Bucknell against No. 5 Colgate at 9 a.m. The day continues with the second quarterfinal at noon as No. 2 seed Lehigh takes on seventh-seeded Holy Cross. Friday wraps up with third-seeded and defending Patriot League champion Army going up against No. 6 Lafayette at 3 p.m. Saturday’s semifinals begin at 10 a.m. with top seed and host Navy taking on the Bucknell/Colgate winner, while the winner between Army and Lafayette will match up against the winner of Lehigh and Holy Cross at 2 p.m. Sunday’s championship battle between the semifinal winners is set to begin at 1 p.m.
NAVY RUNS TABLE TO GARNER TOP SEED
Navy saw its run of four consecutive Patriot League Men’s Tennis Championships snapped last season with a semifinal loss to host Lehigh in the 2011 edition of the tournament. A year later, the Mids are back in full force and earned the No. 1 seed after going a perfect 5-0 against League teams in the spring. Navy collected 7-0 victories against Colgate, Lafayette and Lehigh and earned tough 4-3 triumphs against Bucknell and archrival Army. The top seed in the tournament brings with it the coveted quarterfinal bye, so the Mids will open play Saturday in the semifinals against either Bucknell or Colgate.
ARMY AIMS FOR REPEAT PERFORMANCE
Possession of the Patriot League Men’s Tennis trophy has been dominated by Army and Navy since the first tournament was held in the fall of 1990. Only four times has an institution other than one of the two service academies captured the championship - Bucknell in 1991 and American from 2002-04. The trophy called Annapolis home for four straight years entering last season’s tournament before the Mids saw their run for a fifth consecutive crown come to a halt with a semifinal loss to Lehigh. Army then posted a victory over the Mountain Hawks in last year’s championship to capture its ninth League crown and first since 2006.
NO. 2 FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR
Head coach Dave Shook, who is in his 23rd season as the head coach in Bethlehem, has guided Lehigh to the No. 2 seed in the tournament for the second year in a row. A season ago, the Mountain Hawks posted two victories over four-time defending champion Navy, the second of which came in the tournament semifinals to send them to the title match for the first time since the current team format was adopted in 1994. Lehigh fell 4-2 to Army in last year’s championship bout, but the Mountain Hawks are back again as the No. 2 seed a year after coming one win away from the title.
THE JOE ABRAHAMSON AWARD
The student-athlete selected as the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player will be presented with the Joe Abrahamson Award. Abrahamson took over as the head men’s tennis coach at Colgate in 1965 and added the same duties for the women’s team in 1977. He remained in both capacities until his death in March 1993. The Tournament MVP award was added in his honor at the men’s tournament a month later. Abrahamson was a 1958 graduate from Colgate, where he served as team captain his senior year.
MERCHANDISE IS AVAILABLE
Patriot League championship gear and merchandise will be available at all championship events this spring, starting with women’s tennis in mid-April and ending at baseball in mid-May. Even if you can’t make it to all of the events, the Patriot League Store has you covered. From t-shirts to sweatshirts and any apparel in between, the Patriot League Store has everything. Among the merchandise currently available include apparel celebrating the Patriot League men’s and women’s basketball championships for Lehigh and Navy, respectively, back in March. Visit the store at www.PatriotLeagueStore.com.
2011 CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP
Army regained the Patriot League title for the first time since 2006 after a 4-2 victory over Lehigh in the finals of the 2011 tournament. Gary Kushnirovic and Asika Isoh shared Tournament MVP honors in guiding the Black Knights to their ninth League crown. Army made the finals after defeating Bucknell 4-2 in the semifinals, despite dropping the doubles point to the Bison. Lehigh advanced thanks to a 4-3 marathon win over four-time defending champion Navy that lasted five and a half hours.