SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Riding the momentum of strong doubles play to open the match, Bryant closed out its best season of Division I with a 7-0 victory against visiting Brandeis Thursday afternoon at a blustery and cold Bryant Tennis Courts Complex.
The win over Brandeis concludes Bryant’s third season of Division I with a 15-6 overall record and marked the final match for a senior class that has been instrumental in the program’s transition to Division I.
The Bulldogs went 6-0 against Northeast Conference competition this year – including two wins over conference champion Sacred Heart – and registered huge wins over Stony Brook and Villanova.
Prior to Thursday’s match, head coach Ron Gendron, along with University President Ron Machtley and First Lady Kati Machtley, recognized those seniors who played such a pivotal role: Cristian Balestrieri, Nicholai Hill, Peter Hart Callahan and Juan Martin Paredes.
Balestrieri was perhaps the most successful of the quartet and leaves his mark as one of the program’s all-time best. The senior won 54 matches during his four year career including 37 playing at No. 1 singles.
Against Brandeis, Balestrieri finished his career strong. Teaming with freshman Dana Parziale at No. 3 doubles, Balestrieri helped get the Bulldogs off on the right foot with a tough 9-8 win and a 1-0 lead in the match.
In singles play, Balestrieri earned the win at No. 1 singles after Nick White was forced to retire due to an injury. White was leading 3-2 and tried hard to continue but had to retire.
Callahan and Hill followed with hard-fought singles matches of their own at No. 2 and No. 5 singles respectively. Callahan won the opening set, 6-3 against Dave Yovanoff and battled hard to win the match with a 7-5 win in the second set. Hill also looked sharp in the first set, picking up a 6-3 win over Steve Nieman, but the two seniors battled each other hard in the second before Hill would eventually prevail, winning 7-6 in the second, 7-4 in the tiebreaker.
Brandeis, ranked No. 22 in Division II and one of the region’s top programs, picked up a win at No. 2 doubles with White and Nieman topping Hill and Connor Crowley.