Royals Men's Tennis Earn First Landmark Final Appearance
SCRANTON, Pa. — The University of Scranton is now one step away from a Landmark Conference title and an automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Division III championships.
Behind two wins apiece from junior Carl Caceres (Teaneck, N.J./Bergen Catholic) and freshman Joe Morra (Bronx, N.Y./Fordham Preparatory) and Tim McGurrin (Clarks Summit, Pa./Scranton Preparatory), the Royals defeated Moravian College, 8-0, to advance to Saturday's championship match against either #4 Catholic or #1 Drew at the site of the highest seed remaining.
The unsung heros for Scranton turned out to be the number three doubles tandem of senior Michael Arrighi (Warren, N.J./Seton Hall Preparatory) and freshman Bennett Kelley (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central), who overcame a 7-4 deficit to pull out a 9-7 victory after the Royals opened up a 2-0 lead.
Instead of being down by one point, the Greyhounds found themselves in a 3-0 hole entering singles play.
"That win by Arrighi and Kelley took the wind out of their sails," said fourth-year Scranton head coach Keith Hetsko. "They were in the match up until that point and that loss really hurt them."
Scranton clinched it on wins by Caceres and freshman Jonathan Russo (Madison, N.J./Madison) at the two and five singles, respectively. Caceres won his sixth straight and eighth in his last 10 matches by defeating junior Doug Morrow (Coopersburg, Pa./Southern Lehigh), 6-0, 6-3, to run his season record to 14-7 and 45-16 (.738) in his career. Russo then improved to 11-5 on the year by turning back sophomore Stefan Apostolos (Hillsborough, N.J./Hillsborough), 6-2, 7-5.
Freshman Mike Pannone (Maplewood, N.J./Seton Hall Preparatory) and Morra earned their 14th and 13th wins in singles by downing Nick Yelito (Tamaqua, Pa./Tamaqua), 6-4, 7-5, and Drew Shreter (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown), 6-1, 2-6, 6-3, at six and four, respectively, while McGurrin improved to 8-5 on the season with a 6-, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Kevin Holze (Bayside, N.Y./St. Francis Preparatory) at three.
Arrighi and Kelley's win in doubles improved their team-leading record to 13-3 while senior Scott Melideo (Dix Hills, N.Y./Hall Hollow Hills East) and Morra improved to 12-7 with an 8-3 win over senior Ian Box (Charlestown, Mass./The Rivers School) and Morrow at one. Cacares and McGurrin are now 8-2 on the year after downing Apostolos and Holze, 8-3, at two.
Scranton has now won four straight and eight of their last nine matches to improve to 15-5 on the season.
Hetsko knows that the Royals needs one more effort like they got today to earn a bid to the NCAA championships, especially since two-time defending champion Drew University is likely to be the opponent standing in the way.
"We have to continue to play at a high level," he said. "Since the Wilkes' match (a 6-3 loss on April 18), we've picked it up a notch. I felt we didn't compete well in our first match against Drew (a 7-2 loss on March 27), but if we are to beat them, we need to compete and compete like we did today."
Story provided by Scranton Sports Information