TOLEDO, OH – The University at Buffalo men's tennis team split its first two conference matches this weekend as the Bulls fell to Western Michigan on Saturday, while picking up their first MAC win on Sunday with a 6-1 victory over Toledo. The win was also the 100th in the career of head coach Lee Nickell.
The Bulls came out strong on Sunday, opening the day by clinching the doubles point. Seniors Vidit Vaghela and Petr Vodak won at first doubles, 7-6, while the second doubles squad of Ethan Nittolo and Hao Sheng Koay won their match, 7-5.
UB won five of the six singles matches, including four of those in straight sets. Koay won at first singles, 6-4, 6-3, while Nittolo picked up a 6-2, 7-5 win at second singles. Vodak continued the run for the Bulls with a 6-3, 6-1 win at three.
It was a nice comeback for the Bulls, who dropped a 5-2 contest to Western Michigan on Saturday. The Broncos won the doubles point in that contest as UB got two singles wins coming from Nittolo at second singles, 7-5, 6-3, and Fridell at fifth singles, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
"I couldn't be more impressed with our team and the way they handle adversity," said Nickell. "I take full responsibility for our loss yesterday, but take pride in the fact that our team competed their hardest through the obstacles I allowed to be put in our way. We had to adjust to outdoor tennis today, against a team just coming off spring break in Florida. The seniors led the way today, clinching doubles in a tight match, and the rest of the guys followed suit with a convincing win in singles. I have never been this confident in a team, and we are excited to have more ranked opportunities during spring break."
The win today was the 100th for Nickell, who has had an outstanding run as head coach in his nine seasons with the Bulls. He has guided the Bulls to their first two Mid-American Conference championship titles in program history, capped off by an undefeated MAC season in 2016-17 and an NCAA Tournament berth. He has been named the MAC Coach of the Year in three of his first eight seasons.
"Nine years ago I was given an opportunity to come to UB and help build a winning tennis program," said Nickell. "Every win had been due to the amazing student athletes, associate coaches and support staff I have had the privilege to work with. What makes this milestone most special is that our coaching staff and athletes have accomplished this with the utmost character and love for our University. I cannot thank Kathy Twist and the rest of our administration enough for their support of me and every student athlete who wears Blue and White. I also want to thank George Tibil and Tony Miller, two former captains who sacrifice so much to coach this group."
The Bulls will return to action on Thursday against Cornell as they begin a stretch of three straight matches against Ivy League competition.
Buffalo 6, Toledo 1 (March 18)
1. Hao Sheng Koay (BUF) Def. Luka Vitosevic (UT) 6-4, 6-3
2. Ethan Nittolo (BUF) Def. Vince Anzalone (UT) 6-2, 7-5
3. Petr Vodak (BUF) Def. Thawin Suksathaporn (UT) 6-3, 6-1
4. Danilo Vukotic (UT) Def. Matthew Johnson (BUF) 7-6, 6-4
5. Villhelm Fridell (BUF) Def. Serjen Olmedo (UT) 6-2, 6-2
6. Nickolas Frisk (BUF) Def. Reid Teatsorth (UT) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
Western Michigan 5, Buffalo 2 (March 17)
1. #113 Maik Steiner (WMU) def. Hao Sheng Koay (UB) 6-4, 6-3
2. Ethan Nittolo (UB) def. Kennosuke Nouchi (WMU) 7-5, 6-3
3. Jannik Opitz (WMU) def. Petr Vodak (UB) 6-2, 6-2
4. Lenhard Haupt (WMU) def. Vidit Vaghela (UB) 7-6, 6-3
5. Villhelm Fridell (UB) def. Eric Olivarez (WMU) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
6. Matej Svjetlicic (WMU) def. Nickolas Frisk (UB) 7-5, 6-3