DeKALB, Ill. -- The No. 64 Ball State men's tennis squad claimed its 19th Mid-American Conference regular season title with a 7-0 sweep of Northern Illinois Saturday afternoon. With the win, Ball State earned its second-consecutive MAC crown. The Cardinals, who finish the regular season with an 18-6 overall record and a perfect 5-0 league slate, head to the 2006 MAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed.
"The team did a great job today," said Ball State head coach Bill Richards. "We played the way we needed to in this situation."
The Cardinals started the afternoon off with a bang, earning the doubles point after tallying wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions. The 47th-ranked duo of Matt Baccarani and Joe Epkey kept its winning streak alive after it downed NIU's Brian Livingston and Alex Friesen 8-4 at the top spot. The BSU pair is a perfect 14-0 on the year. The BSU brother tandem of Tony and Jarrod Epkey also posted an 8-4 win over their opponents -- David Katz and Jimmy Chu -- at the No. 2 slot. The successful Epkey twosome is 11-4 from the No. 2 position this season.
In singles play, all six Cardinals came out with straight-set victories. Baccarani -- ranked No. 82 -- took down Livingston 6-3, 6-0 in the top spot, while Joe Epkey downed Friesen 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 2 position. Tony Epkey and Patrick Thompson challenged their opponents -- Adam Ford and Katz -- and came up with 6-2, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-1 victories. Rounding out the Cardinals' streak was Jarrod Epkey and Danny Vidal. Epkey landed a 6-4, 7-6 win over Diego Zagarra-Ballon at No. 5, while Vidal took advantage of a 6-0, 6-3 verdict over Chu at the No. 6 hole.
Ball State looks for its 17th MAC Tournament Title when it heads to Toledo, Ohio, Thursday through Saturday. Western Michigan earned the No. 2 seed and a first round bye. First round tournament pairings have No. 3 Toledo vs. No. 6 IPFW and No. 4 Buffalo vs. No. 5 Northern Illinois.
Ball State 7, Northern Illinois 0
No. 1 -- #47 Baccarani/Joe Epkey (BSU) def. Livingston/Friesen (NIU) 8-4
No. 2 -- Tony Epkey/Jarrod Epkey (BSU) def. Katz/Chu (NIU) 8-4
No. 3 -- Ford/Zagarra-Ballon (NIU) def. Thompson/Vallee (BSU) 8-7 (8-6)
No. 1 -- #82 Matt Baccarani (BSU) def. Brian Livingston (NIU) 6-3, 6-0
No. 2 -- Joe Epkey (BSU) def. Alex Friesen (NIU) 6-2, 6-2
No. 3 -- Tony Epkey (BSU) def. Adam Ford (NIU) 6-2, 6-1
No. 4 -- Patrick Thompson (BSU) def. David Katz (NIU) 6-0, 6-1
No. 5 -- Jarrod Epkey (BSU) def. Diego Zagarra-Ballon (NIU) 6-4, 7-5
No. 6 -- Danny Vidal (BSU) def. Jimmy Chu (NIU) 6-0, 6-3