Men's Tennis Blanks Western Conn. To Advance To LEC Finals
MILTON, Mass.—UMass Boston swept all three doubles matches and cruised to a 5-0 shutout victory over third-seeded Western Connecticut State University (8-4) Friday afternoon in the Little East Conference Semifinals at the Curry College Tennis Courts.
With the win, the second-seeded and defending tournament champion Beacons (9-8) advance to Saturday's final against top-seeded University of Southern Maine. The Beacons and Huskies will play at 1 p.m. on Saturday with the winner earning the Little East Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA DIII National Championship Tournament.
The loss ends the Colonials season at 8-4, a year after finishing 0-10 and missing the LEC Tournament. UMass Boston dealt the Colonials two of their four losses on the season and the Beacons extended their winning streak to a program-record three in a row against Western Connecticut State.
Seniors Eglis Bizhoti (Kucovë, Albania) and Charles Lai (Boston, Mass.) each finished 2-0 on the afternoon, to help the Beacons earn their third-ever and third consecutive Little East Conference Tournament victory.
Lai and fellow senior Sean Cullen (Medway, Mass.) opened the match with a dominant 8-1 victory over the Colonials top pair of Brian Bucknam and Chris Turner.
Bizhoti and partner Mark Grinhaus (Scarsdale, N.Y.) followed suit at number two doubles, as the pair cruised to an 8-2 victory over William Donahue and Ryan Klem.
The Beacons also managed to close out third doubles, despite an extremely tight match. Lyle Analetto (Belmont, Mass.) and Jack Wang (Suzhou, China) won the final three games of the match, to earn an 8-4 victory over Jason Hipona and Daniel Winter.
UMass Boston carried their momentum over to singles action, as Bizhoti cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 win at number three singles over Turner. Bizhoti improved to 4-1 in Little East Tournament play as a Beacon, after finishing 2-1 in last year's title run.
Lai ended the match with a win at number two singles, as the senior co-captain blanked Klem 6-0, 6-0 to end the Colonials season.
While the two teams didn't finish the final four singles matches, Wang (fifth singles) and Cullen (first singles) were each up a set for UMass Boston, while Donahue (fourth singles) and Winter (sixth singles) held a one-set lead for Western Connecticut State.
UMass Boston and Southern Maine met once before in the Little East Tournament, with the Huskies ending the Beacons season in the Little East Conference Quarterfinals in 2012.