Men's Tennis Opens A-10 Championship with Win over Saint Louis
April 13, 2012
Mason, Ohio -
The Fordham University men's tennis team opened play at the 2012 Atlantic 10 Championships with a 4-3 win over Saint Louis at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. With the win, the Rams advanced to the quarterfinals where they fell to Charlotte, 4-0.
The Saint Louis win was Fordham's first at the Atlantic 10 Championships since a 4-3 win over LaSalle in 2006. The game against Charlotte also marked the first ever quarterfinal appearance for Fordham at the championships.
The Saint Louis match came down to the final singles match with Mischa Koran facing Saint Louis' Bobby Kidera at the second position. Koran won the first set, 6-3, but Kidera took the second, 6-0, forcing a third set. In the third set, Koran got out to a 5-2 lead before Kidera came back to take a 6-5 advantage. Koran then fought back to take the next set, evening things at 6-6, and then won the tiebreaker, 7-3, to win the match and clinch the victory for the Rams.
"I spoke to Mischa this morning before the match, and I told him he is the guy I want to be in the deciding match," said head coach Cory Hubbard. "He has stepped up in that situation all year, when the team has needed he comes through. He plays with so much heart and plays for the team. The other guy was serving for the match and just two points away, but Mischa willed his way back and clinched it for us. I talk all the time about our team playing with Heart and Mind, in the end and pressure situations and that's what they did."
Fordham opened the match by wining the doubles point, taking both completed doubles matches. Kuba Kowalski and J.J. Tauil defeated Joe Flanagan and Bobby Kidera at first doubles 8-0, and Srikar Alla and Max Peara followed with an 8-3 win over Vuk Poledica and Yehia El Sallaly at second doubles. At third doubles, Koran and Peder Gram were ahead 6-5 over Patrick Kella and Dave Welkener when the match was halted.
Due to injuries, the Rams had to adjust their singles lineup, with everyone moving up a level. The move didn't seem to affect the players at the top of the order as Alla, who normally plays second singles, defeated Flanagan in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, to give Fordham a 2-0 lead but Gram was felled by Poledica at third singles, 6-1, 6-3, and J.J. Tauil lost to Feder at fifth singles, 6-2, 6-2, to allow the Billikens to tie the match at two.
"It was an unbelievable team effort today," said Hubbard. "The doubles was a huge point and a big statement for us. Unfortunately, we had to pull our #1 and #6 because of injuries, which made this match a true test of our depth. Everyone had to move up and step up today and once again our conference match came down to the very last match. I am so happy for the team and the guys who have worked so hard and believed in Fordham and took the challenge of turning the program into a winner. It says a lot to move into the quarterfinals for the first time. This afternoon will be tough playing Charlotte, but I know our guys are excited to play them again. The last match was very close, as we had the last four matches tied in the third set so we expect another battle."
In the Charlotte match, the top-seeded 49ers proved too much for the Rams.
The match opened with Charlotte winning the doubles point as Kamil Khalil and Krzyszt Kwasniewicz defeated Koran and Gram at third doubles, 8-2, and Paul Cisti and Anthony Davison bested Alla and Peara at the second position, 8-3.
In singles play, Davison defeated Peara, 7-6, 6-1, at fifth singles, Cisti was victorious over Gram at the fourth spot, 6-2, 6-4, and Jack Williams closed out the match with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Kowalski at first singles.
"I am so proud of the way our team fought today," said Hubbard following the Charlotte match. "We had a few chances to really get the match closer but they clinched it. We were in a third set at three and had a match point. We were two points from splitting sets at number six, and were up 3-0 at number two, so we could have won the last three matches. Charlotte is a very good team, and we battled back and fought till the end. It's unfortunate the A-10 plays a doubleheader for the teams not in the top four seeds, because it is truly unfair to have to come back and play again just hours later, while they were fresh. No other conference in the country does that, and hopefully we will get it changed next year since the conference is getting so much better."
The Rams will next be in action on Wednesday, April 18th, as they host Rider University at 11:00 a.m. and Marist College at 3:00 p.m.
"This loss does not take away anything from a historical season." continued Hubbard. "To win against Saint Louis without two starters and to make the quarters for the first time in school history shows how far we have come. We still have three matches left, and a chance to set the school record for most wins in a season. I hope we come away from this tournament with more desire and can take that next step next year. With only two sophomores, six freshmen and a solid recruiting class for next year, we should be in the mix for the A-10 title for the next several years. Again, our team plays with so much heart and energy and has established a tremendous reputation."