The College of Staten Island men’s tennis team battled valiantly, but the Dolphins were ultimately on the losing side of a 5-1 defeat at the hands of top-seeded Baruch College in the 2013 CUNYAC Postseason Championship Final played at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. At 13-4, the Bearcats will move into the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament while the Dolphins will finalize at 11-8.
Play began with doubles, and it was nearly two hours of tension for that alone, as the two sides battled like heavyweights in the ring, slugging it out till the end. Baruch’s No. 2 team of Artem Gorbachevskiy and Joe Laskowski got off to a big, 7-1, edge over CSI’s Daniel Ursomanno and Austin Kapetanakis, but in a recurring theme, the Dolphins clawed their way back. CSI reeled off three straight points to close to within 7-4. The Bearcats duo, however, was able to piece together the final point on service to score the first point of the game, and give the top seeds a 1-0 edge.
One flight down at No. 3, the CSI team of Hector Molina and Ed Ruffe were locked in a battle with Baruch’s Philip Bleustein and David Garzon. CSI was up 3-2 in the contest, but two straight points swung momentum in the Bearcats favor, 4-3. The teams traded points from there until ultimately, CSI rallied to make it 7-6. With Bleustein holding serve, Baruch was able to squeeze in another point, taking the flight, 8-6.
In what was arguably the tightest flight of the evening, another battle was brewing in top spot, as CSI’s Nick Zikos and Timur Shamuradov were going toe-to-toe with BC’s Danil Ovechkin and Guy Goren. CSI broke Baruch’s serve early, and seemed poised for a win with a 7-6 lead and Zikos serving, but Baruch battled for the break. With the serve Baruch then took an 8-7 edge, but with Shamuradov with the serve, CSI tied things up at 8-8, sending it to a tiebreaker. There, CSI had set point twice, holding a 6-4 edge, but Baruch would score the next four points, winning 9-8 (8-6) and giving the Bearcats a commanding, 3-0, edge for the Bearcats.
CSI did not quit, but the hill would prove too steep to come back from. In the No. 6 spot in singles, Samuel Hajibai would score a score a 6-2 winner over CSI’s Ruffe, putting the Dolphins on the brink of elimination, 4-0. The Dolphins did register a win after that, as Shamuradov avenged the doubles defeat with a resounding 6-2, 6-4, win over Gorbachevskiy. With the other flights still very much in question, it was Baruch’s Laskowski that delivered the championship, beating CSI’s Kolachok Chuenpratum, 6-2, 6-1, for the clincher.
That gave Baruch a 5-1 win. In the other unfinished flights, CSI’s Zikos had taken the first set over Ovechkin 6-3, and was trailing 5-4 in the second set at the time of suspension. At No. 3, Baruch’s Goren had won a 7-5 first set and was winning 5-0 in the second before CSI’s Molina scored three straight to close to within, 5-3. Finally, at No.4, CSI’s Daniel Ursomanno scored a 6-4 win over Bleustein in set one, and was down 4-3 in set two.
For the Dolphins and Head Coach Paul Ricciardi, the final was disappointing, but the coach was happy with the effort.
“I am very happy with the way our team handled itself out there in a tough and emotional match,” he said. “We had some big chances and we came up just a bit short. We have a very young team and this is a good learning experience for us. We are obviously disappointed, but I couldn’t ask for a better effort.”
For the Bearcats, it was their eighth CUNYAC title in 10 years, while the Dolphins, who have fallen in the championship twice since 2010, remain without a title since 2003.