Bronxville, N.Y. – The 2013-14 season for the men's tennis team at Concordia College was another year for the record books. The Clippers captured their fifth straight Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Championship while finishing with a 20-5 overall record to earn at least 20 victories for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
During the fall the Clippers participated in the Stony Brook Invitational to begin their competition for the season as Concordia would capture both doubles flights and the singles "B" flight. Days later the team would travel to Philadelphia, Pa. for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) East Regionals. The Clippers would dominate as junior Juuso Ojanen (Varkaus, Finland) captured the singles title and the duo of senior Daniele Piludu (Cagliari, Italy) and junior Benas Majauskas (Vilnius, Lithuania) would take home the doubles championship.
All three players would travel to Florida to participate in the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships in October. Piludu and Majauskas would capture the NCAA Division II National Doubles Championship while Ojanen placed 5th overall in the NCAA Division II Singles Championship.
In the spring season Concordia began their season with back-to-back home matches against NCAA Division I foe Fordham and Northeast-10 rival Merrimack. The Clippers would earn wins in the matches to start off with two wins in February.
Concordia would then travel to Florida in early March to play against three top programs in D-II tennis. The Clippers dropped their opening match against No. 8 Saint Leo but rebounded to take wins against No. 15 Rollins and No. 44 Flagler. This began a stretch of five consecutive victories for Concordia as the final three wins would come against Dist. of Columbia, Caldwell, and Bloomfield.
The Clippers would make another trip in late March to Georgia as Concordia dropped a match against Auburn-Montgomery, a NAIA nationally recognized program, but then earned a 7-2 victory over No. 5 Armstrong Atlantic, their first in program history.
The month of April was kicked off at home against CACC rival Chestnut Hill. The Clippers would roll to a 9-0 win and then returned to Florida for their final regular season road trip of the year. No. 1 ranked West Florida would be the first match for Concordia as the Clippers would fall to the eventual NCAA Division II National Champions 8-1 but then bounced back to defeat No. 13 Valdosta St., 5-4.
The victory against Valdosta St. marked head coach Neil Tarangioli's 500th career win as a head coach in men's tennis. This milestone victory would begin a stretch of seven consecutive wins for Concordia as the Clippers would finish with a perfect 6-0 record in CACC play and earn the top seed in the CACC Championship Tournament.
Prior to the conference championship Concordia would have one last non-conference match. The Clippers faced ASA College, a National Junior College Athletic Association recognized program, where Concordia would fall 4-3.
At the CACC Championship Tournament the Clippers would roll over both Post and Chestnut Hill, 5-0, to claim their fifth consecutive CACC Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament. Following the CACC Tournament Majauskas was named the tournament's MVP as well as being named to the CACC All-Tournament Team along with sophomore Rafael Ferreira (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Ojanen, and Piludu.
For the first time the Clippers served as the hosts for the NCAA Division II East Regionals in tennis and would utilize the National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. as the venue of choice. Concordia was the top seed and had a bye until the East Regional Finals where they met Merrimack for the second time this season. The Clippers would go on to take a 5-0 victory and earn a spot in the NCAA Round of 16 in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
In their Round of 16 match Concordia faced No. 21 Cameron and rolled to a 5-0 victory to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals against No. 3 Barry. The Clippers were unable to advance to another NCAA Semifinal as Berry won the match 5-1 to end Concordia's season.
Throughout the season there were many awards handed out to the men's tennis team and individuals. On March 10th Piludu was named the CACC Player of the Week (POTW) while Ferreira was named the CACC Co-Rookie of the Week (ROTW). Piludu was also named the CACC POTW on March 17th and Ferreira was also named the CACC ROTW on March 24th while Majauskas was named the CACC POTW on March 24th and April 7th.
At the annual CACC Awards Banquet Piludu was named the CACC Player of the Year in men's tennis for the third consecutive season. The CACC First Team All-Conference was made up of five players from Concordia out of the seven spots. Joining Piludu on the CACC First Team is sophomore Ofir Ginat (Raa'nana, Israel), junior Tomasz Olfans (Opole, Poland), Ojanen, and. The CACC Second Team featured freshman Pulat Babadjanov (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) and Ferreira while senior Ricardo Frey (Curitiba, Brazil) was named a CACC Honorable Mention.
Rounding out the conference awards is Tarangioli with the CACC Coach of the Year selection and Majauskas with the CACC Top XIV Award. The CACC Top XIV is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the CACC championships.
The ITA had many awards for Concordia this season. Piludu was named the ITA East Region Men's Senior Player of the Year while Piludu, Majauskas, and Ojanen were named ITA All-Americas. Ojanen finished the year as the 4th-ranked singles player in NCAA Division II while Piludu finished as the 7th-ranked singles player while Majauskas is 44th overall. In doubles the duo of Majauskas and Piludu are the 5th-ranked team in the nation.
For the academic awards the men's program earned an ITA All-Academic Team award while ITA Scholar-Athletes included Ferreira, Frey, Ginat, and Majauskas. At the conference level Majauskas was the lone recipient on the team for the CACC All-Academic Team for the Clippers.
The Clippers will look at another shot for a national title in 2015. Be sure to visit ConcordiaClippers.com for their fall schedule when it is announced in the next few weeks.