WILLIAMSVILLE, NY – Western Michigan claimed the 2018 Mid-American Conference Tournament title on Saturday afternoon as the Broncos defeated the host Buffalo Bulls, 4-2, in tight match throughout the afternoon. The Broncos earned the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, while Buffalo ends their season with a 13-10 record.
For the first time against Mid-American Conference competition, Western Michigan lost the doubles point as the Bulls rode the momentum of a rowdy home crowd at the Miller Tennis Center. All three doubles matches ended within moments of each other beginning with a UB victory at first doubles as seniors Vidit Vaghela and Petr Vodak scored a 6-3 victory in what would be their final collegiate match. After Western Michigan won at two, the Bulls closed out a win at third doubles as junior Ethan Nittolo and freshman Matthew Johnson won 6-4, giving the Bulls the 1-0 advantage.
Singles was a battle up and down the lineup as four of the six matches saw at least one set tiebreaker. The Broncos tied the match up with a straight sets win at five, but the Bulls regained the lead as Nittolo won in straight sets at third singles, 6-4, 6-4.
UB held on to the 2-1 lead for a while as matches at one, two, and four all were in second set tiebreakers at the same time. The Broncos came away with a 6-4, 7-6 (4) win at fourth singles to tie that match up at 2-2 and then moments later took their first lead of the afternoon with a win at first singles, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Two matches continued as Villhelm Fridell played at second singles and Vaghela was at sixth singles. The senior took his first set at six, 7-5, but he then fell in a marathon tiebreaker in the second set, 9-7. Vaghela was ready for a third set depending on the outcome of the match at two between Fridell and Western Michigan's Jannik Opitz.
Opitz won the first set 6-4 before Fridell came back and won a second-set tiebreaker, 8-6. Opitz dominated the third set though as he won 6-1 in the third set, clinching the MAC title for the Broncos, who won their 11th straight match.
"We gave Western Michigan our best shot this afternoon and to their credit they handled it really well," said head coach Lee Nickell. "This season was a tremendous success and our program continues to be on the rise. We will miss our two seniors in Petr and Vidit as they set some high standards that will be tough to replicate. Finally, I want to thank the administration and the Western New York community for making this a very special atmosphere for our guys this weekend."
Buffalo will return six members of this season's squad next year.
*Order of Finish: 1,2,3
1. Maik Steiner (WMU) def. Hao Sheng Koay (UB), 6-3, 7-6 (4)
2. Jannik Opitz (WMU) def. Villhelm Fridell (UB), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-1
3. Ethan Nittolo (UB) def. Kennosuke Nouchi (WMU), 6-4, 6-4
4. Lenhard Haupt (WMU) def. Petr Vodak (UB), 6-4, 7-6 (4)
5. Matej Svjetlicic (WMU) def. Nickolas Frisk (UB), 6-0, 6-1
6. Eric Olivarez (WMU) vs. Vidit Vaghela (UB), 5-7, 7-6 (7)
*Order of Finish: 5,3,4,1,2