Sometimes the best outcomes are unexpected. This proved true for the Binghamton men’s tennis team at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional over the weekend, as the doubles pair of senior Thomas Caputo and freshman Kushaan Nath, which hadn’t even qualified for the main draw, advanced to the quarterfinals. They are just the third doubles pair in program history to advance to the quarterfinals.
The duo, which has only taken the court together recently in practice, came into the tournament as second alternates — meaning they wouldn’t get to compete unless multiples teams were unable to play. Fortunately for the Bearcats, that’s exactly what happened; a St. John’s player went down with an injury and the first alternate pair hadn’t traveled to the meet, so BU was granted a spot in the draw.
“It was really a fortunate circumstance that we even had the opportunity to play,” said BU head coach Nick Zieziula. “Thomas [Caputo] and Kushaan [Nath] did a great job of making the most out of that opportunity.”
The pair squared off against Princeton in the first round, taking down the Tigers, 8-6, before defeating Boston College in the second round.
The serendipitous pairing next faced a duo from Dartmouth in what proved to be the Bearcats’ most hard-fought win of the day, as they narrowly took down the Big Green, 8-7. Caputo and Nath then moved on to the quarterfinal round where their run ended at the hands of Columbia sophomore Victor Pham and his brother, senior Richard Pham.
According to Zieziula, Caputo and Nath’s success was particularly notable because they had never competed together and barely practiced with each other prior to the tournament.
“I just paired them together because we had an even number of people going,” he said. “That’s a testament to … if we play our system, it doesn’t really matter who we put out on the court together.”
Zieziula was pleased with the doubles results because of the emphasis the team has placed on improving in this area.
“It’s especially rewarding because we spent a lot of time on our doubles process, figuring out the style that we want to play and what kind of plays we want to run and that’s really been the focus,” he said.
On the singles side, Caputo and freshman Tiago Lourenco made it to the second round before being eliminated.
Next up for the Bearcats is the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Indoor Championships next weekend, where they’ll compete against the same teams they’ll see in the spring season.
“It’s the first event where we’re putting some actual outcome goals on in terms of number of wins and focus more on putting together a good performance with wins and losses,” Zieziula said.
Although the meet is one of the program’s most important for the fall season, Zieziula plans not to hold onto the results as particularly significant.
“You don’t want to get too focused on what happened here … it’s still so early in the year and really what matters is what happens in March and April,” he said.
Binghamton is scheduled to play at the MAC Indoor Championships, which starts on Friday. First serve is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Kalamazoo, Michigan on the campus of Western Michigan.