April 29, 2010

By Michael Wilson
Special to NCAA.com

Topping the Hill in the Heartland

The Heartland Conference tournament ended with an unexpected upset of No. 17 Incarnate Word by No. 18 St. Edward's.

The Hilltoppers, ranked second in the South Central region behind Incarnate Word, beat the Cardinals 5-2 in the conference finals after suffering a tough loss in the opening doubles match, 0-8. The Cardinals didn't capitalize on the early momentum giving up the last two doubles matches and then dropping three of the first four singles matches to lose the championship.
Both teams enjoyed first round byes to start the tournament before shutting down their second round opponents. The Hilltoppers swept St. Mary's, 5-0, while the Cardinals dumped the Dallas Baptist Patriots, 5-0.

With the big victory the Hilltoppers claimed the Heartland conference title as well as the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA regionals where they will enjoy another opening round bye.

Incarnate Word earned an at large bid to the NCAA's South Central regional bracket, but will have to play Washburn in the first round.

Both teams finished well in the individual conference awards as Incarnate Word's Francisco Segura was named the Senior of the Year, and St. Edward's claimed the Player of the Year, Ned Boone, and the Coach of the Year, Russell Stern. Phillip Allen of Dallas Baptist earned the freshman of the year honors.

The Hilltoppers and the Cardinals swept the all-conference team as St. Edward's earned six spots and Incarnate Word earned the other four places.

Bentley Back on Top

The Bentley Falcons claimed its first Northeast-10 Championship since 1996 when it handled Merrimack in five straight matches in the conference finals. The victory marks the fourth conference title in school history with the others coming in 1989 and 1990.

The top-seeded Falcons swept through the conference tournament beating St. Michael's and Adelphi in straight matches as well. Bentley now boasts an eight-game winning streak going into the NCAA playoffs.

Bentley also dominated the conference in the postseason awards. Head Coach Alex Wong earned his first Coach of the Year award for leading the Falcons to an undefeated conference record while Lucas Weaver was named the NE-10 Freshman of the Year. Lorenzo Cava claimed Player of the Year honors after going undefeated, 17-0, in singles play on the season and leading his team to its first conference title in 14 years.

The Falcons also earned the conference's automatic bid to the East region of the NCAA tournament and will match up against Stonehill, the fifth-ranked team in the region. Bentley is the third-ranked team in the East region behind No. 1 Concordia and host school, No. 2 Queens. Merrimack and Adelphi received at large bids.

Abilene Christian streaks through Lone Star Conference

No. 22 Abilene Christian hoisted the Lone Star Conference championship trophy after sweeping Cameron 5-0 in the finals. It is the second straight conference title for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats took a commanding lead sweeping doubles play before closing out the win and earning the Lone Star's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Coming off a first round bye the Wildcats beat East Central, 5-1, using their strong doubles play to take control of the match while Cameron survived a strong effort by Midwestern State winning 5-3.

Abilene Christian finishes the season with a 16-11 record and a third place finish in the South Central region where it will enjoy a first round bye in the NCAA tournament. Cameron will join the Wildcats in the regional rounds. The Aggies finished the season 15-9 and will play Northwest Missouri State in the first round.

The Wildcats claimed five all-conference spots while the Aggies earned four as well as freshman of the year honors for Jorge Gerosi. Midwestern State cleaned up on the postseason individual awards earning Sportsmanship of the Year, Carlos Bataller, Newcomer of the Year, Bo Zaputovic, and Coach of the Year by Larry Wiggins.

Bobcats dominate West Virginia

The West Virginia Wesleyn Bobcats claimed the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference downing Charleston in dominating 5-0 fashion.

The Bobcats prowled through the conference tournament facing little opposition handling Shepherd in straight matches and West Liberty, 5-1.

The top-ranked Atlantic region Bobcats, 20-2, have not lost a match to a Division II opponent this season and have earned the conferences automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in the process. The Bobcats with face a WVIAC title game rematch in the first round when they host No. 4 Charleston. They will be joined by fifth-ranked Bluefield St. and sixth-ranked West Liberty St. which received at large bids in the Atlantic regional.

West Virginia Wesleyn earned the rights to host the Atlantic region NCAA bracket after claiming the WVIAC title and the top-seeding in the region.

Bluefield St. made its own statement in sweeping the individual postseason awards, Coach of the Year in Louis Belt, Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year in Shikhar Kapur.