Immediate Release: May 15, 2004
OXFORD, Miss. - Binghamton men's tennis (16-8) put up a strong fight against eighth-seeded Ole Miss in the NCAA first round Saturday afternoon before the Bearcats were defeated by the SEC champion Rebels (22-4), 4-0. The national tournament appearance was BU's second straight as America East champions.
"I'm very happy with our performance," head coach Michael Starke said. "We talked about needing to bring out our A+ game, and more or less, we did that. We showed a marked improvement over last year."
The top doubles tandem of freshman Dan Hanegby (Herzliya, Israel) and senior Steve Spencer (Plantation, Fla.) jumped out to a 3-0 lead and were on serve at 5-6 before Ole Miss stepped up to win 8-5. The hosts scored an 8-1 win at third doubles to capture the team point. At second doubles, however, sophomore Richemn Mourad (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and junior Juan Garcia (Lima, Peru) were cruising with a 5-2 lead when their match was suspended.
"We came out fighting in doubles," Starke said. "Juan (Garcia) and Richemn (Mourad) were working their magic at second doubles. When the match was halted, it was looking like they had a chance for victory."
In singles, Mourad and sophomore Brian O'Connor (New Rochelle, N.Y.) were in tight matches at number two and three singles, respectively. Mourad won his opening set and trailed 3-2 in the second when Ole Miss clinched the match. O'Connor served for the first set at 5-4 before his opponent saved a set point and captured the opening set, 7-5.
"Richemn and Brian were our heroes in singles," Starke said.
At number one singles, Hanegby ran into a buzzsaw with junior All-American Catalin Gard, losing 6-1, 6-1. Gard is the SEC Player of the Year, and is ranked No. 4 in the country. Hanegby concluded his stellar first collegiate season with a 31-7 overall record.
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