POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — In a highly contested championship match that came down to the final singles matches, regular season champion and top seed Culinary Institute of America held off an upset bid by defending champion Berkeley College to claim the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s tennis championship by a 5-4 margin on Sunday afternoon at the Dutchess Racquet Club.
The Steels secure their first league title after five straight tournament runner-up finishes and complete an perfect season in conference play this season wrapping up the season at 6-3 overall.
Culinary would endure their toughest test of the season after outscoring the league 35-1 in three regular season matches and their semifinal victory. With the Steels and Knights splitting the first two doubles flights, Berkeley’s Alexander Maurmann and Sebastian Rousseau rallied from an early break at No. 3 doubles and won the final three games to close out a 8-6 victory over Brynne Schlicher and James Buquet IV that gave Berkeley a 2-1 edge headed into singles play.
Culinary’s Cassidy Seo, the 2016 Co-Rookie of the Year, posted a love victory at No. 4 singles to level the match but Berkeley’s Victor Marotta, the 2016 Player of the Year, and Kazuki Suzuki cruised in their No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches to bring the Knights lead to 4-2 and one point from reclaiming the title.
With their backs up against the wall, Culinary rallied to take the final three singles matches in an exciting finish. After Nathaniel Putman blanked his opponent at No. 3 singles, all eyes turned to the No. 5 singles match on the main court that was the decisive match. Schlicher earned an early break for Culinary, but Rousseau put the match back on serve and the pair matched each other step-for-step until 9-all, forcing a tiebreaker.
Meanwhile, two courts over, Buquet fell behind early at No. 6 singles but rallied to take a sizeable lead against Maurmann, putting all the pressure on the main court for the title. Deadlocked 3-3 in the tiebreaker, Schlicher ran off four straight points to claim the match in a 10-9 (7-3) victory and just moments later Buquet completed the comeback and clinched the title for the Steels, closing out his match 10-3.
Over the tournament, Seo finished an unblemished 4-0 for Culinary while Marotta and Suzuki also went undefeated 4-0 for Berkeley.
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2016 HVIAC Men's Tennis Championships
#1 Culinary def. #2 Berkeley, 5-4 | Box | Sunday, May 1
Tournament & Regular Season Champions
The Culinary Institute of America