The University at Buffalo reigns as the Mid-American Conference men’s tennis champion for the second time in three years, but it took a dramatic, almost unbelievable comeback to defeat host Western Michigan, 4-3, in the championship team match in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Saturday.
The Bulls had fallen behind 3-1 and were one singles match loss from losing to the host Broncos. UB had to win three straight singles, some which hinged on set tie-breakers, to come away with the title.
Sophomore Ethan Nittolo outlasted Jannik Opitz of WMU in a third-set tiebreaker at sixth singles to clinch it for UB
The match began outdoors, and the Broncos won two of the three doubles matches to take the lead. Western won at No. 1 and 2 and took the opening set in five of the six singles matches but could not get the clincher. When play moved indoors the Broncos’ momentum stalled.
With the match tied at 3-3, it was up to Nittolo. He lost his opening set but won a 7-2 tiebreaker in the second. Nittolo was down a pair of breaks in the third before he fought back and won the tiebreaker, 7-5, to win the championship for the Bulls.
He was Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
UB (14-4) qualified for the NCAA Tournament starting May 12 and will learn its destination Tuesday. Play will begin on May 12.
SOFTBALL: Sierra Bertrand threw the first-no-hitter for Niagara since Jennifer Sansano in 2013, striking out five with three walks in a 2-0 victory over Quinnipiac in Lewiston. Bridget Hogan led off the fourth with her 16th double of the season, a Niagara record, and scored the eventual winning run. Niagara (17-23, 8-8) won the second game, 8-6, over the Bobcats.