With plenty of steam heading in, the College of Staten Island women’s tennis squad will be ushering in the CUNYAC Postseason Tournament this afternoon, hosting Lehman College at the CSI Tennis Center, at 3:30pm. The Dolphins earned the No. 3 seed in the eight-team single-elimination tournament, by virtue of their three-way tie for first place in the standings with a 7-1 record.
CSI’s only blemish in conference play was a hard-fought, 7-2, loss to Hunter College earlier in the season. The Hawks earned the top-spot in the tourney, winning the overall tie-break against both CSI and Brooklyn College.
Optimism is high for the Dolphins, who have won seven straight, and 9 of its last 11 matches, not counting a forfeit win over Medgar Evers College. The incredible run featured a 9-0 win over quarterfinal opponent Lehman College back on September 17. What’s more is CSI seems to be gelling heading into the tournament, with individual players hitting their strides at just the right time.
“I am really proud of the effort all season and it’s really showed in recent weeks,” said CSI Head Coach Paul Ricciardi. “We had a lot of new talent this year, and we are getting better match to match. Getting that experience is helping us find our stride heading into the tournament this week.”
As a unit CSI posted a 34-7 mark in singles within CUNYAC play, including perfect records from Jean Baak (6-0) and virtual newcomer Jessica Barabatko, who cleared injury to sport a late 3-0 mark in the No. 4 slot. Sabrina Bragerton-Nasert will occupy the top spot, sporting a 7-4 overall and 4-2 CUNYAC mark in only her freshman season. Stalwart Ilona Stoyko sported an impeccable 6-1 mark within CUNY at the No. 2 spot. Mediha Mulla, a CUNYAC Rookie of the Year candidate, chimed in with a 10-3 overall and 6-1 mark this year, including a perfect 3-0 mark at No. 5 Singles, where she will play in the postseason.
“Our strength this season has been the fact that it has been a team effort all season and we expect every spot to compete and win on any given day,” said Ricciardi. “We feed off of each other, and our effort has been there with every match. The terrific work rate of our players keeps us moving forward.”
As strong as singles can be for CSI, strong doubles play will need to give CSI a good start and Ricciardi is hoping his units will come up large in the tournament quest for a championship.
“Doubles play is always an important three spots and our depth gives us flexibility,” said Ricciardi. “Our key will be to stay aggressive and in the moment. We expect every match to be competitive and our ability to stay focused on every point will be critical to our success.”
Should the Dolphins win today, the rest of the tournament will be played at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. CSI would play the winner of No. 2 Brooklyn College and No. 7 John Jay College at 1pm on Friday, October 19. The Championship is set for 1pm on Sunday, October 21. For Ricciardi, his team will need to save its best tennis for this final push, but a championship in not out of the question.
“Our team is mentally tough. Winning a championship is important to them and it’s been showing,” he said. “I feel this year’s postseason is wide open and anyone can step up with strong play and win it. There are some very good teams that will be vying for a title and we feel we can be right there with them.”
Admission to today’s contest is free of charge and CLUE Certified for all students. In CUNYAC Tournament play the first team to score five points wins the match. In other quarterfinal matches, No. 1 Hunter College takes on No. 8 City College of New York, No. 2 Brooklyn takes on No. 7 John Jay, and No. 4 Baruch takes on No. 5 York College.