Top 12 of 2012: #9 Men's Tennis Smashes Their Way By Southern Maine (4/15)
This is the fourth in our Top 12 of 2012 series. Every day for the rest of 2012, we will count down the Top 12 moments/games of the year with each program represented. With two Little East Conference Champions, a handful of wins against nationally ranked teams and several program firsts-2012 was quite the year.
UMass Boston Men's Tennis entered 2012 having won 5 of 31 matches over the previous three years. The program had managed to go just 2-16 in conference matches during that span and lost 10 or more contests in three straight seasons. In fact, in 2011 the Beacons had finished 1-12 overall and 0-6 in the LEC-their second straight season without a conference victory.
To make things even more dire, the Beacons returned just four players who had collegiate experience and sported a roster with just one senior.
Despite the history and their youth, head coach Eric Berg's squad was eager to surprise the rest of the conference.
The team did just that and more, winning 6 of their first 9 contests, including earning their first LEC Conference win in over two years, heading into their matchup with the University of Southern Maine.
The Huskies entered the Sunday contest 6-1 with a 1-0 mark in conference play and were riding a 5-game winning streak. Add in the fact that the Huskies had won three in a row against UMB and nine of 11 matchups all-time and the Huskies looked to be heavy favorites.
But UMass Boston jumped out to a 2-1 lead in doubles play and never looked back, as All-Conference honorees David Hernandez (Bogota, Columbia) and Charles Lai (Boston, Mass.) earned wins at number one doubles and number one and number three singles to pace the Beacons. Hernandez won an epic 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 match at number one singles, while Lai took down Second Team All-Conference selection Scott Gagne with ease to seal the victory.
The victory, the Beacons first in three seasons against a team that qualified for postseason play, propelled UMass Boston to their first Little East Conference Tournament appearance since 2009.
Looking ahead, the Beacons return their top four players and five of the seven members of last year's roster for the 2013 season.