Immediate Release: September 10, 2004
Contact: John Hartrick (email@example.com)
men's tennis looking for America East "three-peat"
Even to a Binghamton mens tennis program that has historically
thrived on its rock-solid success, the achievements of the last
two campaigns have been truly remarkable: Back-to-back conference
titles, first-ever NCAA Division I tournament berths, and a
combined 33 dual match wins all produced with two radically
Entering his 18th full season as head coach, two-time reigning
America East Coach of the Year Michael Starke has quickly built
not only the premier program in the conference but one that is
on the cusp of cracking the regional rankings after just three
years at Division I.
As his squad prepares for the 2004-05 season, Starke has his
sights set on another America East crown and that coveted regional
ranking, but knows full well it will not come without great commitment
Certainly giving the conference championship another run
is high on our list, but as always, it will be a difficult endeavor
filled with obstacles, he said. It is our desire
to be the hardest-working team in the conference.
If any coach and team knows the fruits of hard work, it was Starke
and his 2003-04 Bearcats. That squad struggled through a lackluster
early season and was saddled with the No. 3 seed entering the
America East tournament. But with unmatched fitness and heart,
BU stormed past No. 2 UMBC (4-1) and top-seeded Stony Brook (4-3)
on back-to-back days to successfully defend its title.
The path in 2004-05 may be even more difficult, as the regionally-ranked
Seawolves, who have absorbed two straight 4-3 championship losses
to their younger SUNY counterparts, have significantly bolstered
their lineup in a quest for the title.
Back in BUs corner, however, are four returning starters,
including the top-3, plus six talented freshmen eager to stake
their claim to a starting role.
While we lose two starters and three of our top-7, the
returnees are a core group who fully embody the spirit and character
of the team, Starke said. I am blessed to have such
leaders and quality people returning, and they will play a huge
role in displaying the Binghamton tradition and Bearcat spirit
for the newcomers. They take this role seriously and are up
to the task.
the limit for Hanegby
After a freshman season that only be described as brilliant,
sophomore No. 1 Dan Hanegby returns to anchor the team
as both its best player and now team captain.
Dan has a burning desire to be the team leader, Starke
said. He is sold on the team concept and will put the
team success ahead of his own. On the court, he fully expects
to take his game to the next level, obtaining a high regional
ranking and being a threat against any opponent, not just most
Hanegbys initial collegiate season featured a 31-7 singles
record and No. 12 ranking in the Northeast (highest ranking in
BUs Division I tenure). He was the America East Most Outstanding
Player, and saved his best tennis for tournament play, advancing
to the round of 16 at the prestigious ITA East Regional in the
fall, and then scoring both singles and doubles wins over Stony
Brook in the conference championship match in the spring.
Hanegby scored wins over four players above him in the regional
rankings, and he was the highest ranked freshman on the list
last spring. Seven players ranked higher were seniors, meaning
a top-5 spot isnt unreachable in 2004-05.
Mourad back at No. 2
Junior Richemn Mourad returns to his spot at No. 2 singles
after an excellent first year at Binghamton. The former Murray
State talent won 19 singles matches and a team-best 20 doubles
contests, and like Hanegby, has immense talent and desire.
Mourads doubles play was particularly sharp, as he secured
two doubles wins for BU at the America East Championship, and
earlier in the year, was A flight doubles runnerup
at the Cornell Invitational.
will be a strong No. 4
Junior Brian OConnor, known for his gritty and clutch
play, returns to a spot in the middle of the lineup, where he
played a critical role in BUs spring championship run.
After playing at No. 5 as a freshman, OConnor jumped up
to No. 3 last year, and went 24-9 overall. He scored a win in
BUs semifinal upset of UMBC and has amassed 42 singles
wins in his first two collegiate seasons.
Classmate Edwin Gerard, who played primarily at No. 5
in 2003-04, is slowly returning from an injury and will need
to work his way back into the lineup. Gerard, who like OConnor
has made a habit out of clutch play, won 16 matches a year ago
and at the conference tournament, produced wins over both UMBC
and Stony Brook. He has lost just once in four career America
East tournament singles matches, including a 2-for-2 showing
in championship matches.
OConnor and Gerard, meanwhile, were spectacular at No.
3 doubles after being paired together in April. They went 10-1
to end the spring, including a perfect 3-0 mark at the conference
The doubles options also include senior Krishna Vallabhaneni,
the teams lone senior and four-year letterwinner. Vallabhaneni
owns a 41-21 career doubles record, and remains an outstanding
recruits offer impact
A vastly talented group of six newcomers who will immediately
push for spots in the lineup. The group represents the best
collective recruiting class in Starkes long coaching tenure,
boasting four players ranked in the top 200 in the nation in
2003, and five ranked among the top 30 in the East.
Its a stellar recruiting class, Starke declared.
In terms of depth, its my best class ever. And
its great to bring a New York flavor back to the lineup.
Theres nothing like a bunch of freshmen to bring back
youthful enthusiasm to coaching.
The influx of talent has brought a new dimension to pre-season,
with as many as four singles spots and two doubles positions
entirely up for grabs.
Freshman Alex Dobrin has been the shining star of the
new bunch, and has quickly vaulted into the No. 3 singles spot.
Dobrin was ranked No. 49 in the nation for Boys 16s, and was
a two-time New York City finalist for Benjamin Cardozo High.
The play of Alex Dobrin has been the surprise thus far,
Starke said. His on court efforts this past summer, playing
in all the national junior 18 and under events has served him
well. He is hitting sharp, extremely steady and is quick of
foot. Alex arrived in better shape and more ready than the other
Freshman Faisal Mohamed has also earned a starting singles
spot with an impressive pre-season. A former Nassau County
finalist and state quarterfinalist for Lynbrook High, he was
ranked No. 17 in the ETA in singles and No. 1 in doubles. Mohamed
is an explosive player who strikes the ball with authority.
Faisel has been very impressive in practice, Starke
said. He has a big time game and technically sound strokes.
Twin brothers Tony and Mark Piro also could find
their way into the singles and doubles rotation before long.
Tony Piro has the most credentials of the newcomers, but his
pre-season has been slowed by an injury. An excellent doubles
player, Tony has worked with Mourad at the No. 2 spot, while
continuing to climb the singles ladder.
A scholastic All-American, Tony was ranked as high as No. 8 in
the Eastern Tennis Association Boys 18s, and captured the state
singles title as a junior.
Mark Piro, who like Tony played six years of varsity tennis at
Shenendehowa High, advanced to the state semifinals, and was
ranked No. 18 in the ETA. He has initially secured a starting
role at No. 6 singles.
The talent level barely drops off to newcomers Jon Bonnet
and Jordan Smith, who round out this impressive class.
ranked teams on schedule
Like in past years, Starkes schedule features a handful
of fall matches, invitationals hosted by Cornell and Bloomsburg,
and the more lengthy spring schedule leading up to the America
East Championship, April 29-May 1 at the Connecticut Tennis Center
in New Haven.
The spring slate has been upgraded to include five regionally-ranked
teams (No. 7 Cornell, No. 8 Army, No. 9 Columbia, No. 13 St.
Johns and No. 14 Stony Brook). In addition, BU will face
traditional in-state rivals Colgate, St. Bonaventure and Buffalo.
Back-to-back mid-April matches against Stony Brook and UMBC
will determine seeding and confidence levels heading into the
recognition a priority
In addition to retaining its America East crown, Binghamton would
like to break into the Northeast regional rankings, which traditionally
are dominated by the likes of Virginia Tech, Penn State and the
Ivy League. Starke sees that as the next logical step in his
programs Division I development.
We want to gain a regional ranking, he admitted.
Failure to do so would be a disappointment.
The bar has been set high indeed, pushed upward by an unprecedented
level of recent accomplishments. Starke is eager for his squad
to undertake the new challenges of 2004-05.
We want to be the best we can be, and that will mean working
day-in, day-out as hard as we can on individual improvement and
Based on past practice, that is a proven formula for success.