POSTGAME INTERVIEWS | In a match that pit two of the top teams in the City University of New York Athletic Conference standings, it was the College of Staten Island that secured a 5-4 win over visiting Lehman College, thus giving CSI the conference’s Regular Season Championship at the CSI Tennis Complex.  CSI, who also honored seniors Aziza Jurabaeva and Viktoriya Volkova prior to the match, lifted the team to 6-2 overall at 5-1 within the CUNYAC, while Lehman fell to 4-11 and 3-3 within the CUNYAC.

The win by the Dolphins put them a full game ahead of both Baruch College and Brooklyn College in the standings, and avoided the potential for what could have been a five-way tie for first place in the standings. The Championship carries with it the No. 1 seed in the upcoming CUNYAC Postseason Tournament and gives CSI a first-round quarterfinal bye.

The hard fought game ultimately came down to a heated battle at the No. 3 Doubles position.  Before that, Lehman won a lop-sided, 8-0, decision at the No. 1 spot, as Sacha Espiritu and Lizaveta Markouskaya were able to soar past CSI’s team of Volkova and Tristiana Adragna.  But CSI got even a few minutes later one step lower, where Samantha Maizer and Katherine Villarroel paired to turn back LC’s Celine Figueroa and Alana Bierman, 8-1.

That shifted eyes to the No. 3 position where CSI’s duo of Hannah Bruschi and Mariah DeGuia squared with Joana Rosario and Leslie Juanacio.  After early spars, it was the Lightning team of Rosario and Juanacio that got red-hot, scoring four straight points to go up by a commanding, 5-1 margin.  But CSI slowly started to chip away, and pieced together points and attacked the net furiously to wear down the Lightning.  The play was enough to turn the table, and CSI scored seven straight points to win the flight, 8-5.

That set CSI up with a one-point lead going into singles and it would ultimately hold up.  CSI went up 3-1 on Adragna’s win over Figueroa at No. 3, 6-1, 6-2, but again Lehman countered higher in the lineup.  Espiritu in the top spot rolled by Maizer 6-0, 6-0, to make it 3-2.  Down again at No. 4, Jurabaeva was able to wear down LC’s Bierman by a 6-1, 6-0, count, but just moments later, Markouskaya was able to dispose of Volkova at No. 2 by scores of 6-1, 7-5.

Down 4-3, Lehman needed to win both the Nos. 5 and 6 flights to take the match, and they got one accomplished when Yohara Molineros was able to get past DeGuia by 6-3, 6-4, scores.  Again, attention then turned to the last flight left where CSI’s Katherine Villarroel was tangled with Rosario.  Villarroel was able to score a 6-2 win in the first set, and then caught fire late to score the final three points in the second set to win 6-3 and give CSI the overall 5-4 victory.

For CSI, the Regular Season title is their first since 2013, when they ended up winning the CUNYAC Postseason Championship as well.  For now, the Dolphins will wrap up with three-straight non-conference matches before getting set for the postseason.  First up will be their home finale against Rutgers-Camden at the CSI Tennis Center on Sunday at 12pm.