April 22, 2010
BALTIMORE, Md. - Loyola's tennis teams will carry favorable odds with them up to Queens this weekend when they begin the postseason in the 2010 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tennis Championships.
The Greyhounds will begin play at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Saturday in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., with the No. 4-seeded men (11-5, 3-3 MAAC) taking on No. 5 Niagara Friday morning at 9 a.m. The women, awarded the No. 3 seed with a 12-5 overall record and a 5-2 record in the conference, will play the sixth-seeded Manhattan at 3:30 p.m.
The women's bracket is fairly open, which head coach Rick McClure is encouraged by.
"To use a boxing term, I feel we have a puncher's chance of winning the championship," McClure said. "I have to like our chances."
The women finished out the weekend going 1-1 against Siena (6-7, 4-3 MAAC) and Marist (9-8, 6-1 MAAC) at home. Loyola easily disposed of the Saints with a 6-1 win, Sunday's regular-season finale against the Red Foxes proved to be a tougher test.
"Sunday's match was one of the classics," McClure said.
With the two teams tied at 3-all, it came down to the No. 1 singles match between Loyola's Rachel Janasek and Marist's Kelsey Raynor. But the two-hour marathon match ended with Raynor taking a third-set tiebreaker, giving Marist, the No. 2 seed in this week's championship tournament, the 4-3 win. The victory also helped earn Raynor a MAAC Player of the Week nod as well.
Fairfield was another tough match for the `Hounds. Janasek was able to break through with a win in the No. 1 singles match against Dana Postupack and Scarlett Hoy notched a victory in No. 6 singles but the Stags edged out Loyola 5-2 in Trumbull, Conn., and remain the only other blemish on Loyola's conference record.
Fairfield is unbeaten in the conference at 7-0, and comes into the conference championships as the top seed with a 16-5 overall record.
"We're competitive with the two teams ahead [of us in the bracket]," McClure said. "It only takes one match to turn the tide."
A win over Manhattan would then put the Greyhounds up against the winner of the third match featuring Marist and No. 7 Rider. McClure says he is confident that the women can be successful against either opponent, but feels a rematch with Marist would once again be close.
However, if Loyola were to make it to the finals the Greyhounds have an even greater chance. Loyola has played in four MAAC Championship matches and won all four of them, with the last win coming back in 2002.
The men are hoping to duplicate their March 21 sweep over Niagara to earn a place in the second round. However, if they were to make it into the semifinals, their next opponent would be No. 1 Marist (11-5, 6-0 MAAC).
"It's a different game when it's that one-sided," McClure said about Marist and No. 2 Fairfield (12-8 5-1 MAAC). "It's seeds 3-8 are fun because it's anyone's game."
The men are a mix of young and old, with freshman Bobby Gorczakowski and senior captain Matt McDaniel leading the team. The two lead the team with identical 12-4 singles records and the doubles duo also lead with a 9-4 record.
"Our goal will be to win the first round and get to the semis," McClure said. "And then we just let everything fly and give it the old college try."