The men’s tennis team defeated the defending champs, Bryant Bulldogs, at the Northeast Conference (NEC) championships on April 16th. The tournament was held at Mercer Tennis Center in West Windsor, N.J. from April 16-18.
The Pioneers knocked off Bryant in the quarterfinals by a score of 4-0. The Bulldogs came into the championships with a record-setting six-straight NEC titles.
“It was probably one of the greatest feelings we’ve had in a while,” said junior Ayman Khan. “We were really hungry to go out there and prove that we have the potential to beat them.”
The third-ranked duo going into the conference championships, junior Tyler Lowe and freshman Lefteri Apostolou tallied the first victory for the Pioneers with a 7-5 decision.
“We put in a lot of work at doubles this semester,” said Lowe. “[This] was another great moment to prove the work we had put in.”
Apostolou felt he benefited from having Lowe as his partner this season.
“[Tyler] has a lot more experience in college tennis,” said Apostolou. “We were able to create a connection on and off the court.”
In singles, there are six points available in a best of three sets format. For doubles (which is played first at tournaments), one set is played for the best of six points and you must win at least two out of three to score the doubles point.
“If you split sets and the match is undecided, you play a full third set to decide if you tied one-set all,” said Khan. “If the match is undecided, it’s a 10-point tiebreaker to decide the third set.”
Following Apostolou and Lowes’ doubles match, Apostolou, Khan, and junior captain William Wibmer scored the final three points during singles play. Wibmer and Apostolou led the team by winning both their matchups.
“Going into singles with a doubles point gives you a lot of confidence and it doesn’t put you in as much pressure,” said Wibmer. “For singles, I’d describe it as the best match I played so far, I felt flawless.”
Saint Francis Brooklyn defeated the Pioneers 4-0 in the semifinals. The Terriers secured the victory before Wibmer, Apostolou and senior Lucca Casalduc Pla could finish their respective singles matchups.
“They knew they were going to clinch so [my opponent]was walking around the court stalling,” said Wibmer. “You just have to take the positive stuff, I performed really well during the tournament and I think it’s a great way to finish the season.”
The men’s team finished with a 3-7 overall record and 1-3 for conference play. Five matches were canceled this spring due to the pandemic, which disrupted the team for two weeks.
“We were trying to remind them that COVID can come in and just shut everything down at any minute,” said four-year head coach William Boe-Wiegaard. “We were trying to appreciate every day and treat it like it could be our last day to play.”
Boe-Wiegaard coaches both the men’s and women’s teams at Sacred Heart.
“I feel like I’m doing two years’ worth of work each year,” said Boe-Wiegaard. “I’ve learned and grown more than I would have had if I only had one program to be keeping an eye on.”
Lowe and Wibmer will be captains for the men’s team next season. They hope to advance further at the next NEC Championship.
“I’m going to make sure everyone is giving their 100%,” said Wibmer. “As a team, we really want to win a championship and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.”