Bearcats drop reigning America East champion Hartford 5-2

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - Binghamton (12-9) captured the doubles point on the strength of two tiebreaks, and then won four of the six singles matches to upend Hartford 5-2 indoors Saturday night at the Binghamton Tennis Center. The score was an exact reversal from last year, when the Hawks were on their way to the America East Championship.

Sophomore Akshay Rao (New Delhi, India) teamed with senior Brad Sherwood (Bronx, N.Y./Fordham Prep) for a 9-8 win at first doubles. The pair captured the tiebreak, 7-5. After the Hawks took the match at second doubles, the swing match came down to the third spot, where freshman Edwin Gerard (Queens, N.Y./Edgemont) and sophomore Krishna Vallabhaneni (Lagrangeville, N.Y./Arlington) combined for a 7-4 tiebreak win to clinch the team doubles point.

We're pretty happy," head coach Michael Starke said. "We've been talking about the importance of confidence down the stretch. Because of the quality of our schedule, that's been difficult to develop. But we feel this win gives us that confidence - knowing we can beat a top-notch conference team. That should go a long way."

In singles, BU rode the strength of its Nos. 4-6 players and the continued dominance of Rao, who rolled to a 6-4, 6-1 win. The player he defeated, Pedja Zdravkovic, is the two-time reigning America East Player of the Year, who also toppled Rao 6-4, 6-2 a year ago. Rao is now 27-4 overall, 18-3 in duals.

"Akshay has taken his game to the next level this year. He simply decided to take over that doubles match at the end. He is a special player."

Sherwood also did his part, scoring a 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 win at the fourth spot. Freshman Brian O'Connor (New Rochelle, N.Y./Iona Prep) scored a 6-1, 6-1 win at fifth singles, and junior Steve Spencer (Plantation, Fla./Nova) picked up a 6-4, 6-4 victory at sixth singles.

Weather permitting, the Bearcats will close out their dual match season with three straight home matches, beginning Thursday against Bucknell. The big match is a Friday encounter with rival Stony Brook in a match that will likely determine the top seeds for the April 25-27 America East Championship. The Bearcats are also scheduled to host conference foe Vermont on Sunday.

Binghamton 5, Hartford 2

Rao/Sherwood (BU) def. Zdravkovic/Flint (H), 9-8 (7-5)
Hurlbert/Brodie (H) def. Davidoff/Spencer (BU), 8-5
Gerard/Vallabhaneni (BU) def. Hartmann/Kirchner (H), 9-8 (7-4)

Akshay Rao (BU) def. Pedja Zdravkovic (H), 6-4, 6-1
Pat Flint (H) def. Brad Davidoff (BU), 7-6, 5-7, 7-6
Jeff Hurlbert (H) def. Edwin Gerard (BU), 1-6, 6-4, 6-3
Brad Sherwood (BU) def. Clint Brodie (H), 6-4, 1-6, 7-6
Brian O'Connor (BU) def. Christopher Hartmann (H), 6-1, 6-1
Steve Spencer (BU) def. Evan Sideman (H), 6-4, 6-4


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