BALTIMORE- For the eighth time in the last nine years, the UMBC men's tennis team has advanced to the America East Championship match, as the second-seeded Retrievers knocked off No. 3 Stony Brook, 4-1, in the semifinals at the UMBC Tennis Complex.
UMBC (9-8) will meet No. 1 Binghamton (15-9) in the title match on Sunday at 10:00.
The Retrievers defeated Stony Brook for the second consecutive year in the semifinal round, although in 2012, the Seawolves were the second-seeded squad.
The match was tightly-contested, as the Retrievers prevailed in two of three doubles matches to take one point, and won two of five matches that headed to three sets.
"We knew that they (Stony Brook) are a really good team-it has always been a good battle," said head coach Rob Hubbard. "We got the doubles point today- it was a big deal to get the doubles point as everyone was going three sets (in singles)."
The match opened with Retriever freshmen Melker Svard (Gothenburg, Sweden) and Elliot Loubatie (Paris, France) triumphing, 8-3 at the No. 2 slot. After Stony Brook captured the No. 1 doubles contest, 8-4, UMBC sophomore Daniel Gray (Bowie, Md./The Bullis School) and freshman Alex Drean (Bayonne, France) edged Rick Timmerman/Vinicious Degani, 8-5 to clinch the match's first point.
In the lone singles match to be decided in straight sets, Retriever senior No. 4 Gaulthier Berret (Lagny Sur Marne, France) defeated Marcelo Locatelli, 6-3, 6-1. UMBC took a 3-0 advantage when Gray overcame Fontova , 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 at the No. 6 slot.
But Stony Brook won at No. 3 singles, and matches at Nos. 1, 2, and 5 were in the deciding set. However, UMBC sophomore Kamal Patel (Germantown, Md./Seneca Valley) shook off a first-set loss and rallied to defeat Robert Forai, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, clinching the match for the hosts.
"The guys are in great shape and they are prepared," Hubbard said. "We have had a lot of three set matches this year. Kamal is no stranger to three sets and I am glad he closed it out today."
The Bearcats, who blanked Hartford, 4-0, in the other semifinal match, have won five consecutive America East titles and have defeated UMBC in four of those five championship matches.
"We have a little bit of a break," Hubbard said. "We will hit some tomorrow and hopefully, we can go to another level on Sunday."