May 7, 2010

Courtesy of Kutztown

KUTZTOWN, PA (May 7, 2010) - Sometimes in accomplishing major achievements and goals, the journey is always the most memorable.

Entering this season, the Kutztown University men's tennis team knew it had some strong returning players from last year's successful season, but it wasn't sure how the new additions would fit into place. One year later with a lot of sweat, hard-work and confidence, Kutztown is returning to a familiar destination.

The Golden Bears booked a return trip to the Sweet 16 in Altamonte Springs, Florida by defeating West Liberty University, 5-2, in an NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional #2 final Friday afternoon. It's Kutztown's seventh trip to the Sweet 16 in the last 11 years. This trip may be the most meaningful for Kutztown coach Suresh Ramamurthi.

"This trip back to the Sweet 16 is one of the sweetest ones since I've been here because they had to fight for everything," Ramamurthi said. "We didn't have any superstars on our team this season. All we had was guys who fought hard and played with big hearts. The biggest part of this accomplishment is that the guys on the team wanted to prove that they could get back to nationals on their own."

Kutztown will meet either two-time reigning national champion Armstrong-Atlantic or Francis Marion on Wednesday at a time to be determined.

Unlike Thursday's thriller against Mercyhurst, the Golden Bears made sure to keep their fans in a relaxed mood throughout by winning two of the three doubles matches. Kutztown's No. 1 tandem of Kaushik Das and Arpit Sharma began the festivities with an 8-1 victory. The No. 3 doubles squad of Cameron O'Donnell and Asok Murkerejee claimed an 8-5 decision.

"This is pretty nice to go back because this was one of our goals," Kutztown senior Jonathan Goulet said. "Not everybody believed we would get back because we lost some key players from last year, but we were able to pull it out because some of the newer guys were able to step it up. This trip is more special for us because we had to work harder."

West Liberty University (14-10) showed plenty of heart in battling the Golden Bears. However, after WLU's Alex Fager claimed a 6-1, 6-0 at No. 5 singles to tie the match at 2-2, Kutztown won three consecutive singles matches to extend its home court winning streak to 14 straight. Singles winners for the Golden Bears were Sharma, Das and Murkerjee. They all prevailed in straight sets.

Sharma was a 6-3, 6-4 winner. Das prevailed 6-1, 6-2 and Murkerjee claimed a 6-2, 6-2 victory. Once Das wrapped up his match, the Kutztown fans let out a loud cheer and the Golden Bear players flashed smiles as wide as the Delaware River as they congratulated each other and posed for pictures.

"It's really nice and the feeling is good to go back to Florida," Das said. "At the start of the season, we didn't expect this. After we lost the three seniors; we did a lot of experiments during the season and somehow we stuck to a plan and found some great combinations. Everybody stepped up for us this season and that was nice."


Kutztown 5, West Liberty University 2
Singles competition

1. Kaushik Das (KUTZ-M) def. Jandir Santin Junior (WLU) 6-1, 6-2
2. Jonathon Goulet (KUTZ-M) vs. Erik Jahreskog (WLU) 7-5, 2-3, unfinished
3. Ashok Murkerjee (KUTZ-M) def. Tyler McCullough (WLU) 6-2, 6-2
4. Arpit Sharma (KUTZ-M) def. Tim Sylvester (WLU) 6-3, 6-4
5. Alex Fager (WLU) def. Bobby Zerwick (KUTZ-M) 6-1, 6-0
6. Cameron O'Donnell (KUTZ-M) vs. Alex Conway (WLU) 6-4, 2-3, unfinished

Doubles competition

1. Kaushik Das/Arpit Sharma (KUTZ-M) def. Jandir Santin Junior/Erik Jahreskog (WLU) 8-1
2. Tyler McCullough/Tim Sylvester (WLU) def. Jonathon Goulet/Bobby Zerwick (KUTZ-M) 9-7
3. Ashok Murkerjee/Cameron O'Donnell (KUTZ-M) def. Alex Conway/Darren Fields (WLU) 8-5

Match Notes:
West Liberty University 14-10
Kutztown 12-4
Order of finish: Doubles (); Singles (5,3,4,1)

Kutztown advances to NCAA Sweet 16 in Altamonte Springs, Florida.