NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass.— UMass Boston men's tennis turned their first ever Little East Regular Season title into even bigger things Thursday morning, as Little East Conference Coach of the Year Eric Berg and the entire starting lineup were honored in the LEC Postseason Awards.
Berg became the first UMB head coach in program history to be named LEC Coach of the Year, after leading the Beacons to a program-record 14 wins and their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The seventh-year head coach is second all-time in UMB Men's Tennis history in wins and holds the program mark for the women's team.
Reigning Little East Conference Rookie of the Year David Hernandez (Bogota, Colombia), along with co-captains Alex Loyer(Chelmsford, Mass.) and Charles Lai (Boston, Mass.) all earned spots on the LEC First Team for both singles and doubles.
Junior Eglis Bizhoti (Boston, Mass.) was recognized as a First Team player in singles and also picked up his third consecutive All Conference award for his doubles play.
Hernandez followed up a tremendous freshman campaign with an even better sophomore season, finishing a perfect 6-0 at second singles in LEC matches. He also teamed up with Cullen to form a dynamic number one doubles pairing, as the two finished the year 5-1 in conference play, to earn First Team honors.
The sophomore from Bogota, Colombia tied the program-record for total matches played with 38 on the season and became the first Beacon to win a match at the ITA/New England Regional Championships since 2008.
Loyer was the biggest surprise of the season for UMass Boston, earning First Team honors at number three singles and number two doubles, while winning all 16 matches he played against conference foes.
The senior co-captain strung together 26 consecutive wins late in the season and earned Little East Conference Tournament MVP honors, after defeating Matt Bejtlich for the game-clinching point in the Little East Conference Championship Match. He finished tied for fifth in program history with his 29 total wins this year and stands 10th all-time in school history with his .806 winning percentage (25-6) in singles play.
Lai picked up First Team honors in both singles and doubles for the second straight season, after dominating his foes at number four singles and number two doubles. He wrapped up the conference season 5-1 in singles play, and teamed up with Loyer to go 6-0 in LEC doubles action and 13-0 overall. On the year, Lai set a program-record by playing in 19 doubles matches (15-4) and finished seventh in program history with his 27 total victories.
Bizhoti enjoyed a tremendous first season with the Beacons, picking up First Team honors at sixth flight singles and picking up a spot on the Second Team for his play at number three doubles.
After earning All-Conference honors in doubles play at Salem State University in his first two seasons, Bizhoti put it all together as a junior, finishing with a perfect 6-0 record in LEC singles matches and 10-4 overall. He teamed up with Shavers to form a potent number three doubles pair as well, as the two finished the year 6-5 at number three doubles.
Cullen was the other big-impact transfer, as the former Great Northeast Athletic Conference Player of the Year provided a huge boost to the Beacons lineup. He served as the Beacons number one singles player and earned First Team honors for his play at number one doubles. Despite taking off the 2012 season, Cullen finished 11-2 in doubles play and teamed up with Hernandez to finish 6-2 against LEC opponents, including a victory over Bridgewater State in the LEC Semifinals.
Shavers was the final Beacon to pick up All-Conference honors, earning a spot on the LEC Second Team for third doubles. The Beacons number five singles player totaled 17 wins on the season and teamed up with Bizhoti to win five consecutive doubles matches to close out the regular season.