The Binghamton University men’s tennis team saw its season come to a close on Friday as the America East champion Bearcats fell 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament to University of California, Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
Binghamton (12-14) earned its fourth straight conference title this year, a feat led by senior Sven Vloedgraven, who was named America East Men’s Tennis Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. Binghamton head coach Adam Cohen was awarded conference Coach of the Year honors.
UCLA (17-6) is making its 35th straight NCAA appearance, and is in pursuit of the program’s 17th national tennis title.
Even though Binghamton was able to get off to a hot start against the Bruins, the Bearcats were eventually outplayed.
Early on, both first and second doubles were tied 4-4. However, the Bruin tandem of Warren Hardie and Amit Inbar, ranked No. 57 in the nation, won four consecutive games at second doubles over junior Alexandre Haggai and senior Arnav Jain to win the match, 8-4. UCLA’s Daniel Kosakowski and Holden Seguso topped BU’s sophomore duo of Bastian Bornkessel and Ruben Devos at No. 3 doubles, 8-0, to secure the doubles point.
At the time, Binghamton’s No. 1 tandem of seniors Vloedgraven and Gilbert Wong led the 32nd-ranked doubles team, 5-4, but their match was halted when the point was decided.
“When you’re playing this kind of level of team, you have to take the opportunities when they’re there,” Cohen said. “If you make a mistake it can come back to bite you because when they get their chances they’re executing. We played well in doubles, especially at first and second, but we didn’t play our best at third.”
At singles, the Bruins pulled away by winning the first three decided matches in straight sets. Maxime Tabatruong defeated Devos 6-0, 6-0 at No. 6, No. 58 Inbar defeated Jain 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2 singles and Holden Seguso defeated freshman Ruben Haggai 6-2, 6-1 at No. 5.
At No. 1 singles, No. 77 Vloedgraven was pitted against UCLA’s top dog, No. 37 Daniel Kosakowski, but the match was halted with the Bruin leading 6-2, 4-1. Wong’s match also did not finish at third singles, but No. 79 Clay Thompson led 6-2, 5-3 at the time. Junior Alexandre Haggai’s singles bout also went undecided, but he too trailed when it was halted, 6-4, 3-2 to No. 103 Adrien Puget.
“In singles we got no momentum, and they were on top of us on almost every court,” Cohen said. “It was tough to get any kind of momentum going. They’ve got some very good spots, and that’s why they’re one of the top teams in the country.”
For Binghamton seniors Arnav Jain, Andreas Danielsson and Evan Algier, and for junior Wong, who’s graduating early, Friday’s match marked the end of their Binghamton careers. Jain finished the 2010-11 campaign with a 26-9 singles record and an 18-11 doubles mark. For his career, he is 101-27 in singles play, good for second-most in program history. Danielsson posted a 2-2 singles mark and 0-3 doubles record, while Algier finished 2-4 in singles and 0-3 in doubles. Nationally ranked Vloedgraven will also be graduating at the end of the year, and his 113-33 career singles record is good for most wins in program history. His 72 doubles wins ties the program record.
“They’ve done a phenomenal job from day one when they came in,” Cohen said of the squad’s graduates. “With Arnav and Sven, they’re probably the two greatest guys to ever play at Binghamton University. And Gilbert Wong, he’s not far behind them.”
Binghamton’s men’s tennis program has excelled both on the court and in the classroom and has led the department in GPA for the past six semesters. In spring 2010, the team also held the highest GPA of any sport in the entire conference.
“They do everything the right way for Binghamton, in terms of how they represent us on the court and in the classroom,” Cohen said of his players. “They’ve done it on both ends, and for that I’m extremely grateful.”
Friday marked the end of the season for the team, but Vloedgraven’s collegiate career will continue, as for the second straight season the senior was invited to participate in the 64-man NCAA Singles Championship, which is set to begin on May 25 at Stanford University.