BRISTOL, R.I. - First-year Aaron Isch (Tolland, Conn.) broke a 4-4 tie in the final match of the day as third-seeded Salve Regina University defeated top-seeded Roger Williams University to claim the 2010 The Commonwealth Coast Conference Men's Tennis Championship.
Isch and the Hawks' Jason Pacino (North Reading, Mass.) battled back and forth at #5 singles, with Pacino winning the first set 6-3 before Isch was able to take the second set 6-4. Isch broke Pacino's serve in the final game of the second set after battling through several duece and advantage points. Isch then broke in the fourth game of the deciding set and ultimately came away with a 6-1 score to clinch the championship for the Seahawks.
Salve Regina entered singles play with a 2-1 lead after winning first and second doubles. Andrew Martin (Glastonbury, Conn.) and Steve Masso (North Scituate, R.I.) claimed #1 8-5 over David Lange (Great Neck, N.Y.) and Dan Kleitz (Wethersfield, Conn.), while Chad Strong (San Diego, Calif.) and Zachary Rosenfield (Easton, Conn.) defeated Kevin Erikson (Tolland, Conn.) and Nicholas Hawvermale (Bethlehem, Conn.) 8-6 at #2. Pacino and Jeff DeNunzio (Barrington, R.I.) prevented the sweep by taking third doubles 8-3 over Isch and Brian Castrichini (Winchester, Mass.).
Kyle Baker (Bolton, Conn.) knotted the match at two apiece with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Castrichini at #6 singles, followed by Erikson's 6-2, 7-5 win over Rosenfeld to put the Hawks up 3-2. DeNunzio needed three sets at #1 to push the Hawk advantage to 4-2 with a 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 win over Martin.
Yet the Seahawks continued to fight back, as the final four singles matches all went three sets. Strong dropped the first set 2-6 to Kleitz at #3 singles before winning 6-2 and 6-1 to earn another point for Salve Regina. Masso followed with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 victory at #2 over Lange to set up the deciding match between Isch and Pacino.
Much like Thursday's semifinal match against Nichols, the championship came down to the final singles match to determine a winner. Whereas Masso had the final point for the Seahawks on Thursday evening, it was Isch who delivered the fifth and final point for the Seahawks Saturday afternoon.
"Absolutely resilient!" said Seahawk first-year head coach Joe Heckley. "We lost the first set in all six singles matches and did not give up in any of them. That shows a lot of heart."
The loss for Roger Williams snaps the Hawks' 14-match winning streak and marks their first loss to a The Commonwealth Coast Conference opponent in 25 matches. With its ninth straight win overall, Salve Regina claims its unprecendented 15th TCCC title and eighth in the last nine years.
Salve Regina, the lowest seed to ever win a TCCC men's tennis title, improves to 13-10 and will represent the conference in the upcoming NCAA Division III Championships, while Roger Williams finishes the season with an overall record of 16-7.