Coming off a shutout loss against Tulsa last Sunday, the Binghamton men’s tennis team was looking to bounce back with a pair of home matches over the weekend. However, the Bearcats (4-8, 0-2 MAC) fell in both matches, first against Western Michigan on Friday, and then Northern Illinois on Sunday.
On Friday, Binghamton was unable to capture a team point against a well-rounded Western Michigan (11-5, 1-0 MAC) team. Senior Kushaan Nath was shutout by WMU sophomore Peter Kuszynski, 6-0, 6-0. On the next court, Binghamton junior Alejandro Pena lost without much of a fight against WMU senior Kennosuke Nouchi, 6-2, 6-2. Although freshman Michael Pawlowicz put up a strong effort against his opponent, taking the first set to seven games, he would end up losing the set and the match to WMU senior Jannik Opitz, 7-5, 6-4. Similarly, BU freshman Dan Pergel battled hard in his match against WMU freshman Rodrigo Crespo, winning the first set 6-3. He dropped the next two sets 7-6, 10-2 in a closely contested match.
“It’s hard when you’re playing a solid team like that and have two courts that kind of go away quickly and aren’t able to get a total hold on the match,” said Binghamton head coach Nick Zieziula. “The weird part about tennis is that there are individual courts, but the momentum of the courts feed off of each other. Of the first four matches that go out, [Pawlowicz] and [Friedman] were battling hard, but you see the scoreboards going quickly on [Pena] and [Nath]’s court. It makes it easier for those guys [Pawlowicz and Friedman] to play. I think the momentum of being able to get some easy points is something we can’t let happen.”
On Sunday, Binghamton lost 5-2 against Northern Illinois (6-4, 1-0 MAC), with two victories coming from a default singles win and a doubles win from Bearcat pair Nath and Pena, defeating Northern Illinois sophomore Mikko Malinen and junior Victor Spolidorio, 6-2. Akin to Friday’s matchup against WMU, the Bearcats were unable to make headway in the singles matchups. Nath lost his singles matchup against NIU sophomore David Pata 6-1, 6-2. Pena lost in a similar fashion to Malinen 6-2, 6-1. However, Pawlowicz, Pergel and sophomore Dylan Friedman tried to claw back points in singles. Pawlowicz took his match up to three sets but lost 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 to NIU senior Bor Schweiger Muzar. Friedman also won the first set in his singles match but would go on to lose to NIU senior Shao-Yu Yu in three tightly played sets, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4. Lastly, Pergel stretched the first set to seven games in his match against NIU junior Victor Spolidorio but would lose the set and ultimately the match, 7-6, 6-3.
“In singles, we had two matches that just went away quickly, and [Nath] and [Pena] have to do a better job of getting a toe hold in that match to hang around a little bit,” Zieziula said. “But credit to [Pawlowicz], [Friedman] and [Pergel]. There are some things we gotta work on that we take away from those matches tactically for each one of the three of them. But they put themselves in positions to win. The fight from those three guys, in particular, was great and they’re going to learn from those matches.”
The Bearcats return to action this Friday, March 6 against Monmouth. The match will begin at 7 p.m. at the Little Silver Tennis Club in West Long Branch, New Jersey.