BUFFALO, NY – They were playing tournaments on the road during the fall and have spent the last month traveling through Central New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland but finally this weekend University at Buffalo men's tennis team gets the chance to play at its home indoor facility as the Bulls host Niagara and Duquesne.
UB takes on local rival Niagara on Friday, February 22 at 6:00 pm and hosts Duquesne on Saturday, February 23 at 9:30 am. Both matches will be played at UB's home indoor venue, the Miller Tennis Center, a few miles off campus in Williamsville.
The Bulls are 3-2 in the spring dual season with their only losses coming against Ivy League opponents Penn and Cornell, ranked 73rd in the nation. UB downed Cleveland State, 4-3, in its last match on February 16.
Following the fall tournament schedule, head coach Lee Nickell brought in three new freshmen and a transfer to bolster his lineup and the results have been positive.
Sebastian Ionescu played the 2011-12 season at the University of Arizona, where he saw action in the number six singles slot for the Wildcats. At UB, Ionescu is playing third singles and has turned in a 4-1 mark thus far. His three-set win over Cleveland State's Ali Shabib turned out to be the clincher for the Bulls over the Vikings.
Freshmen Pablo Alvarez and Ashwin Sharma have also been inserted into the singles lineup, splitting time between fourth and fifth doubles. Nickell also made Sharma and Spanish newcomer Sergio Arevalillo his number three doubles squad for the Cleveland State match and the duo delivered a victory to help the Bulls gain the opening point of the contest.
Another freshman, Akhil Mehta, joined the program in the fall. For the spring season, Mehta has combined with sophomore Damien David, the 2012 Mid-American Conference Newcomer of the Year when he was a first-year player, to comprise the Bulls' top doubles duo. The pair are 4-1 this spring.
At the top of the singles lineup, senior Vusa Hove leads the Bulls with 10 wins this season, including eight during the tournament season. David is second on the squad with seven wins.
"This weekend is another good test for us," said Nickell. "Both Niagara and Duquesne are well coached and much improved from last year. These matches will be tight and it will be great preparation for the upcoming MAC season."
Friday's match against Niagara will be the 102nd meeting between the Bulls and Purple Eagles. UB holds a 97-3-1 lead in the all-time series with the last Bulls' loss coming on September 19, 1999 at the St. Bonaventure Invitational. The Bulls have claimed the previous 11 contests since that loss. UB and Duquesne have been rivals since their first matchup on February 14, 1992, UB's inaugural Division I campaign. The Dukes lead the all-time series 11-10, though the Bulls have won the last four meetings.