Updated: April 25, 2012 4:04 pm (ET)
by America East Communications
FLUSHING, N.Y. – The Binghamton men’s and Boston University women’s tennis teams grabbed the top seeds for the 2012 America East Championship at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., April 27-29. This marks the third straight year the Bearcats enter the conference tourney as the No. 1 seed while the 18-time defending champion Terriers earned the top seed for the first time since 2009.
Both teams enter the weekend on impressive championship streaks as the Bearcats have won the last four men’s titles and the Terriers have not lost in the conference tourney for the last 18 years.
Stony Brook follows Binghamton as the No. 2 seed on the men’s side with UMBC filling in the No. 3 slot. Boston U. and Hartford round out the five-team championship field.
UMBC grabbed the No. 2 seed ahead of No. 3 Binghamton and No. 4 Stony Brook on the women's side. The No. 5 seed went to Albany and Hartford completes the field at No. 6.
The Binghamton men aim for their fifth straight title and ninth in the last 11 years. Winners of seven of their last eight matches and six in a row, the Bearcats have played their best tennis as of late including three convincing wins against America East foes. Senior No. 1 Alexandre Haggai (St. Denis, Reunion Island/Lycee Bellepierre) filled in nicely in 2012 for the departed three-time America East Player of the Year Sven Vloedgraven and leads Binghamton into Flushing. Ismael Dinia (Rabat, Morocco/Lycee Descartes) won 25 singles matches during the regular season and will be key at No. 3.
In Stony Brook’s last six wins, the Seawolves have only dropped a total of five points and jumped to the No. 2 seed for the tournament. Sophomore Nikita Fomin (Moscow, Russia/Bradenton), a three-time Player of the Week this season, leads the Seawolves after posting the best No. 1 singles record of any America East player this spring at 14-2.
UMBC, last year’s runner-up, played to an even .500 record against America East opponents during the regular season and will lean on the veteran leadership of senior Joe Adewumi (Phoenix, Ariz./North Canyon) to knock off the Bearcats. Adewumi is one victory away from the 100th of his career and has been solid at No. 2 singles. The senior forms a doubles pair with freshman Kamal Patel (Germantown, Md./Seneca Valley) that posted a 3-1 record this spring.
Winner of four of its last six, Boston U. took the No. 4 seed behind freshman Emilio Teran (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables). The rookie provided stability to the middle of the Terriers lineup this spring with his 10-8 singles record at No. 4. He also teams with Jesse Frieder (Providence, R.I./The Wheeler School) at No. 2 doubles for the Terriers.
Hartford rounds out the field at No. 5 in the first season for head coach Michael Louis. Aneil Bhalla (Ottawa, Ontario/Merivale) went 8-6 at No. 2 singles this spring and will provide leadership as the squad’s only senior player.
In the women’s bracket, Boston U. will defend its unprecedented streak of 18 straight conference championships this weekend as the top seed. The last two years, the Terriers defeated Binghamton as the No. 2 seed, 4-3 on both occasions. Two-time America East Player of the Year Stefanie Nunic (New York, N.Y./Broward Virtual Education) has only played in five matches this year due to injury and will play at No. 3 singles for the Terriers. Sophomore Leonie-Charlotte Athanasiadis (Haltern am See, Germany/Joseph Koenig Gymnasium) played matches at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 singles this year and will be looked to this weekend as the Terriers begin the quest for No. 19.
UMBC posted a 4-1 record against conference opponents this spring and enter the championship on a four match winning streak. Six of the seven UMBC entrants in the championship have winning records in singles action this year lead by senior transfer Shalini Sahoo (New Dehli, India/TCU). Sahoo enjoyed tremendous success in her first season in Baltimore with a 17-4 record combined at No. 1 and No.2 singles and collected another 12 wins in doubles action with Josefin Stange-Jonsson (Vasteras, Sweden/De La Gardiegymnasiet).
Binghamton looks to dethrone Boston U. after a regular season which saw it go 4-1 against conference opponents and will need solid performances this weekend out of Marina Bykovskaya (Saratov, Russia/Secondary School 8) and Jillian Santos (Flushing, N.Y./Cardozo). Bykovskaya is the reigning Player of the Week while Santos ranks third all-time at Binghamton with 86 career singles victories. The Bearcats reached the championship match each of the last four years but fell to Boston U. on all occasions.
The top of Stony Brook’s lineup will have to be the difference maker if the Seawolves, as the No. 4 seed, make noise in the tournament. Junior No. 1 Nini Lagvilava (Tbilisi, Georgia/Number 29) and freshman No. 2 Polilna Movchan (Kiev, Ukraine/Specialized School #125) combined to go 29-6 at the top two singles spots this year. Lagvilava received an ITA preseason national ranking earlier this season when she checked in at 108 before the spring season.
Albany and first-year head coach Gordan Graham head into the National Tennis Center as the No. 5 seed. Led by No. 1 singles player Rocio Lopez Alberca (Madrid, Spain/Georgia Tech), who went 10-5 at the top spot this spring, the Danes aim to advance to the semifinals for the first time since joining the America East for the 2002 season.
Abby Liu (Houston, Texas/Cypress Falls) has been a bright spot for Hartford this year after transferring from the University of Texas. Liu has an 11-5 record at No. 1 singles this spring and leads No. 6 Hartford into Flushing.
For complete championship information, including the complete tournament bracket and match times, visit Championship Central.