For Immediate Release: February 2, 2010
Contact: John Hartrick (
Phone: 607-777-6800

BU men's tennis aiming for third straight America East title
Bearcats climbing ladder among elite programs in Northeast

VESTAL, N.Y. -- Led by junior Sven Vloedgraven, the No. 1 player in the Northeast, Binghamton men's tennis opens up the spring with lofty goals. The two-time defending America East champion Bearcats have their entire starting lineup back and fourth-year head coach Adam Cohen believes his team is poised to challenge the top teams in the Northeast.

"Sven’s fall success has given our men’s tennis team a bit of national exposure and also a lot more regional respect," Cohen said. "Teams within in our region now know that when they play Binghamton it’s going to be a dogfight. We are striving to gain a first-ever national team ranking, win another America East Championship, and advance to a third straight appearance into the NCAA’s."

In 2008-09, Cohen's young BU team won its second straight America East crown and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in the last seven years. Along the way, the Bearcats beat their first nationally-ranked team (No. 53 Drake), toppled Ivy members Brown, Princeton and Dartmouth, and received its highest regional ranking in school history - eighth in the ITA Northeast Region. Two players were ranked among the region's top-20 in singles and the team continued its reputation for academic success with ITA All-Academic distinction. His lineup featured three freshmen and two sophomores and showed the rewards of worldwide recruiting with players from eight different countries wearing BU green.

Vloedgraven has symbolized the program's emergence. The talented junior has elevated his game each season and this fall reached a pinnacle with a singles title at the ITA Northeast Regional and subsequent top-ranking. Now entrenched as BU's No. 1 player, Vloedgraven will do battle against each opponents' top gun.

"Sven's tireless work ethic both on and off the court has paid off," Cohen said. "He is difficult to play as he doesn’t give away many free points. He has a high shot tolerance and can also play well against players that like to come forward and attack as it gives him a target. He always has a good attitude at practice and competes hard. You couldn’t ask for a better example of what a student-athlete should represent."

But Vloedgraven isn't alone and this Bearcats team is a deep and talented bunch. Sophomore Gilbert Wong and senior Moshe Levy are grind-it-out competitors who will anchor the middle of the lineup.

Wong went 31-8 last season and was named the Most Outstanding Player at the America East Championship. He was named conference Rookie of the Year and he and Vloedgraven form BU's top doubles team.

"Gilbert is a great mover around the court," Cohen said. "He battles from the first point to the last point, and most of all he is a great dual match player for our team. I expect Gilbert to play a pivotal role in our team’s success this spring. "

Levy has battled through arm and back injuries throughout his collegiate career but his return to the lineup was pivotal in the Bearcats overtaking top-seeded Stony Brook in the 2009 America East championship match. A two-year team captain, Levy won 17 matches last year.

"Moshe leads by example," Cohen said. "He works hard in practice, in the weight room, and in the classroom. Moshe has seen the transformation of our men’s tennis team first hand as we both arrived here in August of 2006 and I think he takes great pride it what we have accomplished as a team in just three and a half years."

Junior Arnav Jain is a clutch performer who lifted BU to the 2008 America East title with a riveting comeback singles win in the clinching match. He played third and fourth singles last year and posted a 22-12 record. Jain went undefeated in four combined singles and doubles matches at the 2009 America East Championship and teams with Levy to form BU's No. 2 doubles tandem.

"Arnav is going to be tough to beat wherever we play him in the line-up," Cohen said. "He has some offensive firepower to hurt people with and like Gilbert, is a great competitor."

Sophomores Alexandre Haggai and Rafael Rodrigues arrived last spring and are expected to continue to play key roles. Haggai had key dual wins against opponents from nationally-ranked Drake and Old Dominion and went 13-6 in the spring semester. This fall, he won the "B" singles flight at the Cornell Invitational and has earned a starting role in the top 6.

Rodrigues scored two wins at the '09 America East championship.

Newcomers Ruben Devos, Bastian Bornkessel and Alper Alimoglu along with junior Andreas Danielsson will also be in the mix for added depth and doubles combinations.

Cohen has stepped up the competition this spring, when the Bearcats will face four NCAA teams from 2009 (Marist, Western Michigan, Radford, Columbia), seven teams ranked among the region's top-10 and all eight members of the Ivy League, considered the top conference in the region.

The Bearcats, who finished the 2008-09 season ranked No. 8 in the Northeast, will face the region's top team, Columbia, ranked 52nd in the country. The will also meet nationally-ranked opponents in Harvard (No. 61), Radford (No. 70), Yale (No. 73) and Western Michigan (No. 75). Regionally-ranked Cornell (No. 4), Brown (No. 7), Princeton (No. 9) and St. John's (No. 10) also dot the schedule.

Traditional matches against America East rivals Stony Brook (April 17) and UMBC (April 10) will help determine the seeds for the conference championship, which will be held April 30-May 2 in New Haven, Conn.

"For the dual match season it is all about getting in quality matches," Cohen said. "I think I have prepared a quality schedule and I expect our team to grow and develop as players and individuals through this process. It is our goal each year to be playing our best tennis in April and May."

For Cohen, the program's emergence as a regional power has been rewarding but he takes equal satisfaction in the character and academic achievement of his student-athletes.

"This group of guys are special to me because they represent Binghamton University with class both academically and athletically," he said. "We have had the highest GPA within the athletic department for two consecutive semesters (3.47 and 3.64). The guys all compete their tails off no matter who, where, and when we play and for that I am extremely grateful."

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