Despite finishing second in its first year of Mid-American Conference play last season, the Binghamton men’s tennis team was not satisfied with its finish.
“Finishing in the top two was disappointing last year,” BU head coach Nick Zieziula said. “I expect every year, with this program, to be able to compete for a conference championship.”
The Bearcats took the first step on the road to redemption this weekend at the Binghamton Championships, in which BU served host to Colgate, Duquesne, Niagara, Roberts Wesleyan and 2015 MAC Champion Buffalo. Binghamton captured four of five possible titles at the tournament, thanks in part to senior Eliott Hureau, who won the top singles and doubles flights of the tournament.
“He was good — just outstanding from the first day,” Zieziula said. “He really dialed into what he needed to add in to his game. This weekend, he was able to implement the things he’d been working on, being a little more patient and being a little bit stronger … I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to compete this fall.”
In his junior season, Hureau paired up with former standout Robin Lesage to win a key doubles match in Binghamton’s semifinal upset of Western Michigan before being named to the All-MAC second team. On Sunday, he and fellow senior Sid Hazarika, a 2015 first team All-MAC selection, combined to take down a pair from Duquesne with an 8-7 (3) victory. Later, Hureau, who carried the third singles seed into the tournament, once again impressed when he defeated Buffalo senior Akhil Meta, 6-1, 7-5, to win the flight.
On top of Hureau’s success, the Bearcats added both a singles and a doubles title. Junior Vihar Shah recorded a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Colgate junior Dean Koman to seize another singles title. Rounding out Binghamton’s impressive showing were the potent duo of junior Thomas Caputo and freshman Inigo Saez, who shut out their Roberts Wesleyan rivals, 8-0, to tie together an unblemished 4-0 weekend.
Although the Bearcats almost swept the tournament, the number of accolades earned was not at the forefront of their minds.
“The goal for us, going into the weekend, wasn’t to focus on results — it was to focus on the things that we’ve been working on in practice,” Zieziula said. “Each of our guys has a little bit of a different game style and has been working on adding different parts to their game and I think we did a great job with that.”
Prior to joining the MAC last season, the Binghamton squad had taken the the America East conference crown for seven straight years. This dominance served as the main catalyst for the transition to the MAC, a more competitive conference.
“The expectation in this program is always to win a conference championship every year,” Zieziula said. “We talked about it the first week of school.”
With just eight players, the Bearcats will have to count on contributions from each man on their roster, including freshmen Ludovico Cestarollo, Valentin Bouchet and Saez.
“[The freshmen] have been doing a great job of falling in line with the way that we run things,” Zieziula said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how they continue to grow. If they keep doing the things that they’re doing in practice and keep the work ethic that they’ve had, then they’re going to make big strides in their game and be able to help us a lot.”
Binghamton is set to return to action on Friday, October 9 at the three-day Farnsworth Invitational, hosted by Princeton in Princeton, New Jersey.