Western Michigan Win Men's Tennis Championship

Updated 5/1/2010

Story courtesy of Western Michigan Sports Information 

Western Michigan 4, Buffalo 0

MUNCIE, Ind. -- The third-seeded Western Michigan men's tennis team shut out Mid-American Conference regular season champion Buffalo, 4-0, at the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center on Saturday to claim its fifth consecutive MAC Tournament championship and eighth trip to the NCAA Championships. The Broncos (21-10) will find out their destination during the selection show on ESPNews at 5 p.m. Tuesday night.

"I think we had everyone on our team really focused in today," head coach Dave Morin said. "We went in on paper as an underdog after Buffalo beat us in the regular season, but I don't think any of us on the team felt that way. We had the most wins of any team in the MAC and we were the only MAC team to be nationally ranked this season. I think that Buffalo felt the pressure of being in the finals for the first time ever and we took advantage of every mistake they made."

"It's great to win the tournament again," junior tournament MVP Kazuya Komada said. "We lost to Buffalo in the regular season, but this is the first time Buffalo was in the championship match and we knew they might get tight and that we had more experience in that situation. That experience gave us confidence and the advantage because we're comfortable in the final match."

The Broncos (21-10) started fast against the Bulls (13-7), who defeated WMU, 4-3, in Buffalo during the regular season, partly by earning the doubles point. WMU wouldn't let that happen in the rematch. The tandem of junior Michael and freshman Thomas Calderone blitzed Kirill Kolomyts and Marcelo Mazzetto 8-1 at the top position. The tandem of junior Casey Cullen and sophomore Pablo Olivarez remained unbeatable with an 8-4 win at No. 3 to clinch the doubles point and their ninth consecutive win and 33rd this season for Cullen.

"Pablo and I have good chemistry, we get each other fired up and we feed off each other very well," Cullen said. "We both have a swagger that we want to win every time.

"I think doubles is a lot of strategy, being all over the place and being aggressive. When I play doubles I give as much energy as I can, even if that means making the other team hit another ball and trying not to beat myself."

Junior Kazuya Komada, the MAC Tournament Most Valuable Player, and sophomore Zeyad Montasser were leading 6-3 at No. 2 doubles.

"We played dominant doubles. When you look around and see how bad we're beating them, it gives everyone confidence," Morin said. "That led to good energy for everybody and we carried that into singles."

Western Michigan kept building on its lead by winning the first set in five matches to put the pressure on the Bulls. Freshman Simon Blomberg continued to dominate at the No. 5 spot and bounced back from his regular season defeat against the Bulls. He dropped only three games in a 6-2, 6-1 win over Vusa Hove.

Tournament veteran Cullen kept things going for the Broncos. Cullen lost the deciding match with the score tied, 3-3, against the Bulls in Buffalo, but earned a straight set 7-5, 6-2 win over George Tibil at No. 4 to build the Broncos advantage to 3-0.

"I know Casey and Simon felt bad about what happened at Buffalo," Morin said. "Casey trailed 5-3 in the first set and him turning that around was the difference in the whole match. If Buffalo gets that first set and some confidence, maybe it's a different outcome."

"Losing that last match in Buffalo in the regular season was definitely weighing on my mind," Cullen said. "I wanted to play Buffalo again because I was heartbroken after losing to them the first time. I wanted to get redemption today and I told the team that this match was redemption for all of us."

"I think Simon losing to Buffalo the first time was a turning point in his entire season and he's been a force at No. 5 ever since and kept cruising today," Morin said.

Komada completed the sweep for WMU by dispatching of Mazzetto 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2 singles and start the celebration at Ball State's Cardinal Creek Tennis Center.

"What more can I say about Kaz?" Morin said. "We can always count on him and he came up big for us again today."

Michael Calderone, who joined Komada on the all-tournament team, won the first set in a tiebreaker at No. 1 singles, while Montasser won the first set, 6-1, at No. 6 singles. Olivarez dropped his first set at No. 3, but bounced back with a 6-3 win in the second and led 3-0 in the third.

The Broncos victories over Ball State, 4-2, in the semifinals and Buffalo in the finals avenged both of their regular season conference victories. The Broncos have now won back-to-back tournament championships at Ball State after defeating Northern Illinois in the final in 2004.

"It feels real good this year to win the tournament, because we had our struggles in the MAC regular season," Cullen said. "It definitely was more of a challenge this year, but I'm glad we could turn the table and beat the teams in the tournament that beat us in the regular season. We're looking forward to going back to the NCAA Tournament and feel we have a good shot because we know what to expect in the NCAA Tournament."

#3 Western Michigan 4, #1 Buffalo 0
May 1, 2010 at Muncie, Ind. (Cardinal Creek)

Singles competition

1. W. Starakiewicz (UB) vs. Michael Calderone (WMU) 6-7, 6-2, unfinished

2. Kazuya Komada (WMU) def. Marcelo Mazzetto (UB) 6-4, 6-2

3. Kirill Kolomyts (UB) vs. Pablo Olivarez (WMU) 6-2, 3-6, 0-3, unfinished

4. Casey Cullen (WMU) def. George Tibil (UB) 7-5, 6-2

5. Simon Blomberg (WMU) def. Vusa Hove (UB) 6-2, 6-1

6. Alex Kalinin (UB) vs. Zeyad Montasser (WMU) 1-6, 5-5, unfinished

Doubles competition

1. Michael Calderone/Thomas Calderone (WMU) def. Kirill Kolomyts/Marcelo Mazzetto (UB) 8-1

2. W. Starakiewicz/George Tibil (UB) vs. Kazuya Komada/Zeyad Montasser (WMU) 3-6, unfinished

3. Pablo Olivarez/Casey Cullen (WMU) def. Vusa Hove/Mitch Zenaty (UB) 8-4

Match Notes

#3 Western Michigan 21-10

#1 Buffalo 13-7

Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (5,4,2)

2010 Mid-American Men's Tennis Championship

Championship match

WMU advances to the 2010 NCAA Championships

  

2010 MAC Men's Tennis All Tournament Team

Nutthavit Likitkumchorn, Toledo

Dalton Albertin, Ball State

Alex Kalinin, Buffalo

Wojciech Starakiewicz, Buffalo

Kazuya Komada, Western Michigan

Michael Calderone, Western Michigan

 

MAC Men's Tennis Tournament Most Outstanding Player Kazuya Komada

 

Thursday, April 29

10:00 a.m.  No. 3 Western Michigan vs. No. 6 Chicago State (Western Michigan W)

2:00 p.m.  No. 4 Toledo vs. No. 5 Northern Illinois (Toledo W)

Friday, April 30

10:00 a.m.  No. 4 Toledo vs. No. 1 Buffalo (Buffalo W)

2:00 p.m.  No. 2 Ball State vs. No. 3 Western Michigan (Western Michigan W)

Saturday, May 1

1:00 p.m.  MAC Champion--No. 1 Buffalo vs. No. 3 Western Michigan (Western Michigan W)