Nashville, TN—The Belmont Men's Tennis team sealed the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title on Saturday, defeating in-state rival Tennessee Tech, 5-2. With both teams entering this matchup with unblemished 5-0 records, this match was the deciding match for who would win the title and the Bruins rose to the challenge.
It was a season full of growing pains for a young team with only two seniors but by the time conference play started, the Bruins were set to enjoy a sweet streak of eight matches in a row. Not only did they prove to themselves that they could win, but this young group proved that they could dominate consistently in matches. Now, BU has finished the regular season with a winning record, clinched the OVC title, and have put themselves in a great position, as they earned the number one seed in the OVC Tournament.
"I am so proud of our guys to finish the regular season with the OVC title," said head coach Mauricio Antun. "That just shows how resilient we were after starting the season with a 5-10 record. Being able to finish on an eight match winning streak was unbelievable but our job is not done yet, since we have the conference tournament next weekend. This title is very meaningful for our program."
The Bruins were off to an uncomfortable start as the Golden Eagles won the doubles point. With the doubles matches tied at 1-1, it was up to the court 2 doubles duo, Stephen Goldman and Zak Khan, to win the doubles point for Belmont. However, they ended up falling to Wenceslao Albin and Riku Kubota, 7-6(4).
The Bruins were able to bounce back, as they were able to win five of the six singles matches to secure the OVC regular season title.
On court 1, Hendrik Inno dominated in the first set against No. 62 Eduardo Mena winning 6-1, but he was held off in the second set, 2-6. In an extremely tough third set, Inno was able to grind and win 7-6 (4). On court 2, Marko Ilić won his match in two sets, defeating Albin, 6-4, 6-4.
On court 3, Vincent Sterkens defeated Marc Mila in two sets. Both sets were difficult for Sterkens, but he was able to win, 7-5, 6-4. On court 4, Khan had a three set match against Jorge Alfonzo, the first two being extremely difficult sets. In the first set, he won a close one at 7-5, but in the second set, Alfonzo came right back and won, 7-6 (2) to force a tiebreaker. The third set, however, was not close as Khan was able to settle down and earn the 6-2 victory.
On court 5, Stephen Goldman was unable to win his match on Senior Day, as he lost to Gonzalo Garcia, 6-4, 6-4. On court 6, Jake Briggs was able to cruise his way to victory, defeating Kubota in two sets, 6-3, 6-1.
Belmont, who earned the No. 1 seed, will play the winner of the match between Eastern Kentucky and Austin Peay on Saturday, April 21 at 10 a.m. in a semifinal duel. The 2018 OVC Tournament will be held at Nashville's Centennial Sportsplex, April 20-22.