NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA -The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's tennis team will begin post-season play when they host Southern Maine in a semi-final match in the Little East Conference Tournament Thursday afternoon. The action is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. at the UMass Dartmouth Athletic Complex, and the match will be terminated as soon as one team has won five matches and clinched the decision.
UMass Dartmouth enters the tournament as the top seed with an 11-2 record after going undefeated in conference play. Southern Maine is 11-5 after defeating UMass Boston, 5-1, in a quarter-final match on Tuesday. The teams met at USM April 21st, with the Corsairs prevailing, 5-4.
"At the beginning of the year, we set some team goals, and we've achieved one of them in that we're undefeated in the Little East Conference," said UMD Head Coach Tom Mendell. "We've also won the regular season championship. Our other goal was to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years, and that will be decided this week."
If the Corsairs win Thursday, they will host the championship match Saturday. "Obviously, not having to travel to Western Connecticut or Southern Maine gives us an advantage," said Mendell. "Thank God we only have to do that every other year. That should be a big advantage if we're hosting the semi-finals and finals."
UMass Dartmouth is the favorite, but Mendell said you can't take anything for granted in post-season play. "You can never tell what's going to happen at tournament time," said Mendell. "On paper, we match up well, but injuries or people having to miss matches due to classes or other obligations can change things. We've only had our entire team together for three league matches, and if we have everyone, we should do well."
Mendell credited UMD's captains for contributing to the team's success. "A lot of our success is because of our co-captains, (junior) Karsten Rathlev (Winchester, MA/Winchester HS) and senior Brian Lui (Medfield, MA/Medfield HS)," said Mendell. "They've done a good job emphasizing teamwork and playing well together this year."
Bridgewater State will host Western Connecticut State in Thursday's other semi-final. The championship match is set for Saturday at the venue of the highest remaining seed.
UMASS DARTMOUTH TENNIS