Men's and women's tennis teams earn spots in NCAA Tournament

It is postseason time for the Baruch College men’s and women’s tennis teams. Both teams are coming off successful seasons, and are looking to take home their respective NCAA tennis championships. A tournament bid alone is admirable for the school, as Baruch is the only CUNY school represented in the NCAA Division III Tennis championship. Both teams went through a great deal to get to where they are today, and look forward to a championship opportunity.

The men’s tennis team finished 6-0 in CUNYAC play, and 11-2 overall, both first by far in the CUNYAC standings. The team’s two losses came in its first two games, as it fell to Oneonta 7-2, and to Yeshiva University 5-4. The team went undefeated after that point, and went on to finish first in the CUNYAC standings.

In singles competition, the Bearcats were led by Joaquin Azcue, Marco Gobbato and Leonard Margolis, who finished 11-0, 10-0 and 10-1 for the season, respectively. The team would finish with a 58-13 combined singles record and 32-7 doubles record for the season, a stellar number by all standards. The team dominated intra-conference play, as it finished 6-0 in the CUNYAC, winning all its matches by a combined score of 52-2 in the regular season.

The postseason was no different for the Bearcats, as the team took care of business against Lehman College and Hunter College, winning both matches by a combined score of 10-1. It sealed a CUNYAC championship win and an appearance in the 2017 NCAA Tennis Tournament.

The championship win was the first for the Bearcats since 2014. In the championship game, the Bearcats were led by Azcue, as they were all season. Azcue, still a freshman, looks to lead the team in the coming years, as his performance in the championship game was enough for him to be named the 2017 CUNYAC championship MVP. The team will play the Colby-Sawyer College Chargers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Middlebury College in Vermont on May 11. The Chargers finished 14-10 this season, yet finished strong, winning six straight games en route to an appearance in the NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament. The Chargers will provide a difficult challenge for the Bearcats, one the Bearcats are willing and ready to accept.

When the season started, the Bearcats were not short of talent. What they were short of, however, was a senior presence. Hugo Castalan and David Alabo were the only two seniors on the team, which forced the younger Bearcats to step up and develop their leadership. They were certainly up to the challenge, as the Bearcats’ younger talent was what propelled them to a CUNYAC championship win. Much of this development falls on the leadership of legendary coach Florin Giuglescu.

Coach Giuglescu is the head coach of both the women’s and men’s tennis teams and has developed a legendary reputation in the New York metropolitan area. He took over the men’s team in 1978, coaching until 1987, when he went on a coaching hiatus from Baruch. He returned in 1996 and has coached the men’s and women’s teams ever since. He was named CUNYAC Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year in 2004, 2008 and 2012, as well as CUNYAC Women’s Coach of the Year in 2015. He is a 13-time CUNYAC championship winning coach, winning 11 championships with the men’s and two with the women’s teams. He has even instructed A-list celebrities such as former President George H.W. Bush, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He knows the sport inside and out and has the leadership skills to lead a team. It is through his leadership that the younger Bearcats were able to develop at an advanced speed and lead the team back to the NCAA Tournament.

The women’s tennis team had a similar season to the men’s. Also led by Giuglescu, the Lady Bearcats finished 11-5 overall and 6-0 in CUNYAC play, first in the CUNYAC. They were led by Isabel Arias, Hayley Bester and Allie Jackson-Hing,who in singles play finished 9-1, 9-2 and 8-1, respectively. Unlike the men’s team, the women started strong, winning their first four matches by a combined score of 24-11. Even so, they ended their season with two straight losses to Ramapo College and Rutgers University-Newark, losing 3-6 and 4-5, respectively. The two losses had no effect on their opportunity to appear in the NCAA Tournament, however, as they did not have to win a championship game to advance to the tournament.

The women’s team looks to make just as much noise in the tournament as the men’s team. It will begin its journey toward a NCAA championship win on May 12 against The College of New Jersey at Tufts College in Massachusetts. The TCNJ Lions will provide an extremely difficult challenge for the Bearcats. They finished 14-3 overall and ended on a three-game win streak. The Bearcats are certainly not content with a two game, interleague losing streak and will look to rebound against the Lions, reestablishing momentum in a crucial point of the season.

The Baruch tennis teams have a great deal to be excited about. They are both appearing in the NCAA Tournament, and look to add some gold to Baruch’s trophy case.