To say that history repeated itself this weekend wouldn’t even come close to doing the Binghamton University men’s tennis team justice.
The top-seeded Bearcats captured their fifth consecutive title at the America East Championship in Flushing, N.Y. with a 4-1 victory over University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the finals. Head coach Adam Cohen has been at the helm for each of those titles and insisted, to no surprise, that winning never gets old.
“Every one is special in its own way,” he said. “This weekend was a complete team effort.”
On Saturday, Binghamton (15-11) defeated Boston University in the semifinals by a score of 4-0.
Juniors Ruben Devos and Bastian Bornkessel won at No. 1 doubles, 8-1, and senior Alexandre Haggai and freshman Ismael Dinia earned an 8-4 win at No. 2 to clinch the doubles point for Binghamton.
Dating back to the end of the regular season, the Bearcats have now won the doubles point in eight consecutive matches.
“It means a lot,” Cohen said about the doubles point. “I mean it’s only one out of a possible seven total points, but it’s a big deal when you go into singles up 1-0. Everybody knows you just need to get three more points to get to four and win the match rather than having to win four out of six singles matches. So when you have a lot at stake, that means a lot.”
Sophomore Ruben Haggai won 12 consecutive games at No. 5 singles in his 6-0, 6-0 victory, giving the Bearcats a 2-0 lead. Older brother Alexandre Haggai then improved Binghamton’s cushion with a 6-1, 6-2 triumph at No. 1 singles, before freshman Florian van Kann clinched the match for the Bearcats with a 6-0, 6-3 victory at No. 6.
In the 4-1 victory in the finals against UMBC, it was more of the same from Binghamton.
Alexandre Haggai won both his singles and doubles match en route to being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The tandem of Haggai and Dinia proved too much for UMBC’s duo at No. 2 doubles, winning 8-0. Haggai then gave Binghamton its first singles point with a convincing 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 1.
Devos and Bornkessel got the job done at No. 1 doubles again, this time slipping by their opponents with a 9-8 (7-4) win to capture the doubles point for Binghamton.
With a two-point advantage, van Kann won his singles match at No. 6 singles in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0, to increase the Bearcats’ lead to 3-0. The Retrievers would get a victory at No. 4, but Dinia’s 6-0, 6-4 win at No. 3 secured the title for Binghamton.
This will mark the eighth time Binghamton advances to the NCAA tournament in the last 10 years, and Cohen is excited for the next challenge that awaits his team.
The Bearcats will learn their NCAA Regional site and opponent at 5:30 p.m. today as the 64-team national tournament will be unveiled online.
“We’re excited to play in the NCAAs,” he said. “It’s great to be on top and representing the conference in the [NCAA] tournament. We’ll continue to try and do the best we can against whoever we play.”
Cohen also noted that the success of the team’s younger players in the tournament is a sign of good things to come for the future of Binghamton tennis.
“This [championship team had] three freshmen and a sophomore in the lineup after losing the guys we lost over the previous four years, so we’re a relatively young team,” he said. “It was nice to see these young guys step up and play well. These guys are more or less going to be the future.”