Patrick Bradley ’14, Staff Writer
After a rough 3-4 record over their first seven matches of the season, the men’s tennis team stormed back into contention by winning their final 8 regular season matches to finish with an 11-4 record and win the Northeast-10 Conference Regular Season Title.
This is the third consecutive season the team has won the NE-10’s regular season crown. The team has now won 10 straight overall matches after going undefeated in the month of April. With their 8-1 victory at Stonehill on March 13, the Warriors moved to a perfect 9-0 in conference play and clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the conference tournament, earning a first-round bye and an automatic berth to the semi-finals.
The Warriors were fortunate enough to play an extra tune-up match against Hartford, a game rescheduled due to an earlier postponement in March. The team was schedule for another non-conference tune up with Hartford on April 15, but due to the events in Boston the match was cancelled. Just six days after clinching the regular season crown, Adelphi University sat waiting in the conference semi-finals, but the Panthers were no match for the Warriors, who won by an easy 5-2 decision. Next up were the Penmen of Southern New Hampshire University, but once again Merrimack handled the match with ease, winning by a 5-1 final.
“I could not be prouder of the way our team has fought for every match we have played this season,” head coach Sean Tully told Merrimack Athletics following the win. “We had great focus today and accomplished what we set out to do from the very first day of practice. We plan on using this momentum to carry us through the region in the NCAA Tournament.” With the conference tournament championship in hand, the Warriors earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Division 2 Tournament, marking their sixth straight appearance and sixth overall.
Junior Chris Barnhart and sophomore Vince Bellino each earned First Team All-Conference honors in the No. 3 and No. 4 singles category, respectively, while the duo also earned Second-Team honors in the No. 2 doubles slot. The Warriors earned a No. 3 seed in the Division 2 NCAA Tournament and next play April 28 in the first round against Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill College.