When and Where: April 30, 2018 – Bronxville, N.Y. (Meyers Tennis Center)
Score: Southern New Hampshire University 5, Merrimack College 4
Records: SNHU 16-6, Merrimack 14-10
Xavier Aubron (Herouville, France) was not ready for his career to end quite yet. The graduate student rallied back from an early deficit in the ninth and deciding match, as the fourth-seeded Southern New Hampshire University men's tennis team pulled out a 5-4 victory over fifth-seeded Merrimack College for the program's first win in seven NCAA Tournament appearances Monday at the Meyers Tennis Center.
Southern New Hampshire, which is making its third straight NCAA East Regional appearance, had been 0-6 lifetime in the NCAA postseason. SNHU advances to the second round to take on top seed and host, Concordia (N.Y.) College, on Tuesday, May 1 (10 a.m.). Merrimack, which was in the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight year, loses to the Penmen for the third time in 17 days and watches its season come to a close.
SNHU fell behind, 1-0, after No. 1 doubles, but answered to bring a 2-1 lead into singles play, as seniors Tiago Fernandes (Porto, Portugal) and Jeremy Reichentahl (Cheshire, Conn.) defeated Tyler Clontz and Paul Weidinger, 8-6, at No. 3, before fellow seniors Ricardo Marreiros (Portimao, Portugal) and Miguel Marreiros (Portimao, Portugal) recorded the same 8-6 win at No. 2 against Alex Fedorov and Denis Davydov.
Merrimack went back in front, 3-2, with wins at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, before Fernandes notched a 6-2, 7-5 victory at No. 1 against Davydov to even the match. The leapfrog continued with sophomore Bas van Biezen (Sassenheim, Netherlands) securing a 6-0, 6-4 win over Clontz at No. 5, but the Warriors would come away victorious at No. 6 to make it 4-4.
Aubron had fallen behind Fedorov at No. 4, losing the first set, 7-5, before roaring back for a 6-1, 6-3 victory to make history for the Penmen.
- Southern New Hampshire, which has now won 12-in-a-row, extends its NE10 winning streak, including the postseason, to 35, dating back to Oct. 15, 2015.
The Penmen defeated Merrimack, 7-2, in the regular-season finale back on April 14, then knocked off the Warriors, 5-2, to collect their third straight NE10 title, before avenging a 5-3 loss in the regional back in 2014 for their first NCAA Tournament win Monday.
- SNHU has won seven of the last nine meetings between the two teams, including six-in-a-row.
- Fernandes, who has won 12 consecutive singles matches, adds to his own single-season program record with his 23rd singles victory.
- van Biezen, who is 22-2 on the season in singles play, has won 20 of 21, including 16 straight. He moves past Mitch Dobek (2013-14) and into second place behind Fernandes.
- The doubles team of Fernandes and Reichentahl has won 12-in-a-row and is 12-0 against NE10 foes this season.
- The Penmen are ranked No. 4 in the ITA East Regional rankings.
The Penmen will look for a spot in the Sweet 16 in Surprise, Ariz., when it battles Concordia (N.Y.) on Tuesday, May 1 (10 a.m.). SNHU took down the Clippers, 5-4, back on April 7 to hand them their first loss to an East Region foe since 2006.
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