After some competitive and hard-fought play this weekend, the Binghamton University men’s tennis team dropped matches to North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, each by a score of 4-3. The women’s team also dropped its match 4-3 at the hands of St. Bonaventure University.
On Saturday, the Bearcats (5-9) forced No. 21 NC State (13-2) to the final singles match but were unable to come away with the victory at the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Outdoor Tennis Stadium.
Binghamton showed a lot of resiliency at the bottom of its lineup with wins at fourth, fifth and sixth singles. Freshman Robin Lesage lost his first set at No. 4 singles before staging a comeback win, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4. Classmate Ismael Dinia also won his match in come-from-behind fashion, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1. Sophomore Ruben Haggai took care of business at No. 6 in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.
It all came down to No. 3 singles where junior Bastian Bornkessel duked it out with junior Rafael Paez for the match. Bornkessel took the first set in a tiebreak, but Paez came back to win the next two sets and the match, 6-7 (15-13), 7-5, 6-4.
“I thought we played well considering we had only practiced one day outside,” BU head coach Adam Cohen said. “It’s always going to be slower conditions outside, so with only little practice, I thought we did relatively well.”
On Sunday, No. 43 UNC-Wilmington (9-2) narrowly survived a late attack by the Bearcats at UNCW Tennis Complex, 4-3. Binghamton pushed a ranked opponent to the final match for the second-straight day.
In doubles, junior Ruben Devos and Bornkessel teamed up to score an 8-6 win at No. 1 doubles, but UNCW won at No. 2 and No. 3 to secure the doubles point.
At No. 1 singles, senior Alexandre Haggai took down No. 64 Rafael Aita in an impressive 7-5, 6-3 win. Dinia had another comeback victory at No. 4 singles (4-6, 6-4, 6-3) and Ruben Haggai also got the win at No. 5 singles (6-1, 3-6, 6-4).
Despite the two tough losses this weekend, Cohen said he isn’t discouraged by the results and thinks his team’s record isn’t indicative of its play this year.
“We played competitive with these teams with very little outdoor practice, and I think it’s actually only going to build more confidence for our guys rather than feeling like we were that close but didn’t do it,” he said. “I think it’s more the other way where we know we’re much better than our record indicates, and that shows by our improving play as the season’s progressed.”
Meanwhile, the women’s team also came up just short this weekend with its 4-3 loss to host St. Bonaventure on Saturday.
The tandem of senior Emma Leibowicz and sophomore Jennifer Fridman jump-started Binghamton (4-7) with a dominant 8-1 win at No. 3 doubles, but St. Bonaventure (6-5) would grab the top two doubles matches to win the point.
“There really hasn’t been a lot of maintaining a certain level of play,” BU head coach Libby McGovern said. “So that’s a little concerning for us and that’s really what we’re focusing on right now.”
Senior Marina Bykovskaya survived a tough battle at No. 3 singles (3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (13-11)), while freshman Katherine Medianik also got the victory in straight sets at No. 5 singles (7-6 (7-3), 6-2).
Leibowicz overpowered her singles opponent 6-1, 6-0 to bring Binghamton to within two points with three matches to play. Senior Jillian Santos nearly got the better of her opponent but in the end fell short in the third set of her match (3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5), giving SBU its fourth and final decisive team point.
“Yes, obviously when you get into those tight matches you want to win them, but for us to put into play the things that we’ve been focusing on during the week was a huge victory for us,” McGovern said.
The men’s team is scheduled to travel to West Point, N.Y. to take on host Army University and Yale University on March 24. The women’s team also has a two-week break before it’s scheduled to head north to Syracuse University to take on the Orange at 4 p.m. on March 23 and Boston University at 11 a.m. on March 24.