May 3, 2012
From Bucknell Athletic Communications
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell men's tennis' Gregg Cohenca (Purchase, N.Y./Rye Country Day School) and Evan Zimmer (Essex Fells, N.J./West Essex) made program and Patriot League history on Wednesday when the double duo earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships May 23-28 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. Cohenca and Zimmer, who posted a 20-5 record together this year, are the first Bison individuals to qualify for the national tournament.
"The way Gregg and Evan, and the entire team approached training this year, paid off with this historic qualification into the NCAA doubles tournament," said head coach Rebecca Helt. "This is one of those moments we've been waiting for in order to highlight what a truly talented men's team we have. I am incredibly proud of this accomplishment and so happy for our players. I believe this will finally open the door we've been waiting to walk through."
Included in Cohenca and Zimmer's 20-5 record for the year was a 10-2 mark together at No. 1 doubles during the spring campaign. The pair broke into the top 60 nationally in mid-March, making them the highest-ranking Bucknell duo in recent memory. As of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) April 24 poll, they were 68th in the country.
Zimmer's doubles play earned him his own piece of Bucknell history in 2011-12 as well. While pairing with Cohenca and most recently Josh Katten this year, the junior amassed 31 doubles wins to become the winningest single-season doubles player at Bucknell. Cohenca's 26 victories on the year ranks third in program annals.
Cohenca and Zimmer became a winning combo from the start as they opened the fall season undefeated in their first 10 tournament matches. They then won 10 of their first 12 contests to start spring dual action. That stretch included a close 9-8 (7) win over Penn State's Jason Lee and Russell Bader that helped catapult them onto the national radar.
The Bucknell doubles tandem last played together on March 18 when it defeated its Duquesne opponent. Since then, Zimmer posted an 11-1 mark while playing with Katten at No. 2 doubles. That duo went undefeated during Patriot League regular-season play. Cohenca stayed at the No. 1 position where he went 6-6 with freshman Aidan Lynch.
"Gregg and Evan, as well as the entire team, stuck by their coaching staff through some very difficult decisions in an effort to find the best doubles combinations on all three courts," said Helt. "One of those difficult decisions included splitting Greg and Evan in order to make the rest of the doubles line up stronger, but that was after they had already accumulated an impressive 10-2 record including a win over a ranked Penn State team.
"Every year, our men's team has made a commitment to doing something better," Helt continued. "They want to win every match, every year, and most importantly, they are on a mission to win the Patriot League Title. Last year, we put a distinct emphasis on doubles because winning that doubles point is a huge momentum builder. This year, we not only focused on doubles play, but on a very specific strategy that helped elevate our players skill level."
Automatic qualification into the Division I doubles championships is awarded to any conference with one or more eligible doubles teams ranked in the ITA Top 60 for eligible/entered doubles teams. For conferences with more than one doubles team within the ITA Top 60 eligible/entered doubles teams, the subcommittee applies the NCAA selection criteria to determine which doubles team is the automatic qualifier from those conferences. All doubles teams must have a minimum of 10 completed doubles matches in order to be selected as an automatic qualifier or an at-large selection.
Singles and doubles competition at the NCAA Championships will be held at the conclusion of the team championship May 18-22. The University of Georgia will host both events.
Bucknell finished its 2012 season with a 10-14 overall record and was 2-3 in the Patriot League before falling in the conference semifinals to eventual champion Navy.