April 29, 2010

Quitko Earns Seventh NEC Coach of the Year; Six Bobcats Earn All-NEC

HAMDEN, Conn. - Quinnipiac University Men's and Women's Tennis Head Coach Michael Quitko has been named the 2010 Northeast Conference Men's Tennis Coach of the Year, the league office today announced. Six of Quitko's players were also named All-NEC. John Hughes (Springfield, Mass.) and James Kwei (Dedham, Mass.) were named to the All-NEC First Team in singles at No. 2 and 5, respectively, while Garrett Lane (Reading, Mass.) and Charlie Feldman (Easton, Conn.) took second-team honors at No. 4 and 6 singles. Kwei and Hughes also contributed to all-conference doubles teams. Kwei paired with Brian Mikkelson (Mequon, Wis.) to earn First-Team All-NEC at No. 1 for the second straight year, while Andrew Weeden (Martinsville, N.J.) joined Hughes in taking second team at No. 2.

The award is Quitko's third with the men's team, while totaling seven when considering his four women's honors. Including his six Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year honors from Quinnipiac's Division II days, Quitko has now earned 13 conference coach of the year honors. This year's award was one of Quitko's most impressive coaching performances, as the third-seeded Bobcats followed a pair of regular-season losses to No. 2 Fairleigh Dickinson and No. 1 Sacred Heart in the regular season with 4-3 victories against the Knights and Pioneers in the NEC Tournament. Running his career win total to 445, Quitko needs 15 more wins to surpass legendary Quinnipiac men's basketball coach and athletic director Burt Kahn as the school's all-time coaching wins leader (459).

"I think what made this season so great is the fact that we had to take a more difficult path by losing to two very good teams in the regular season and then being able to hold ourselves together to come back and defeat them on two consecutive days in the conference tournament," said Quitko. "This award is earned by the players, but given to the coach, and I'm grateful to my players for it."

Hughes earned his first singles all-conference honor and his third at doubles. He went 15-5 in singles this season, including a remarkable 12-1 in dual matches and an undefeated 10-0 at No. 2. He won every conference match he played, and took his only dual match loss while playing No. 1 against Harvard's Alexei Chijoff-Evans. Only once did he need three sets to earn a victory in the spring, when he defeated Fairleigh Dickinson's Peter Skvarka, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, in the NEC Championship Semifinals. In an impressive four-year career, he's won 137 matches.

"John is the backbone of the team," said Quitko. "He brings a great work ethic to the courts. It's hard to believe this is his first all-conference in singles, due to his exceptional talent level. As good a tennis player as he is, he's a greater leader. He will be missed."

Hughes and Weeden went 9-7 on the season in doubles, including 4-2 record against NEC opponents. Their only losses of the season to conference foes came against Sacred Heart's Chris Ujkic and Cole Conrad, once in the regular season and again in the NEC Championship Match. Hughes and Weeden defeated Fairleigh Dickinson's Peter Skvarka and Dominic Hemy twice, and added victories against Monmouth's David Sherwood and Harvey Bhalla, and Bryant's Kevin Gardiner and Tom Nowak. The duo was also in control of their match against Saint Francis' (Pa.) Stephen Kowalski and Steven Child, 7-4, when it was halted in the NEC Quarterfinals. In fall tournament action, the duo added a win over Sacred Heart's Kirill Kasyanov and Nick Mazzarese.

"Together, they really solve the problem of No. 2 doubles," said Quitko. "You could see John always teaching Andrew, and Andrew absorbing the information like a sponge. I think Andrew's experience playing doubles with John has prepared him to be a valuable contributor with whomever his new partner may be next season."

Kwei went 14-7 in singles this season, and won both of his matches at No. 5 in the Northeast Conference Championship. Battling through injury in the spring season, he played just six singles matches, but came through with wins in the NEC semifinal and championship matches, both 4-3 victories for the Bobcats. He defeated Fairleigh Dickinson's Ted Segerfors, 6-4, 6-3, in the semifinals, before getting past Sacred Heart's Michael Syer, 6-3, 6-4, in the championship match.

"James has shown a lot of growth as a tennis player over the past two years," said Quitko. "He came to us two years ago as a great athlete, but through hard work, he's also become a great tennis player. I'm excited about what the next two years potentially have in store for James."

Kwei and Mikkelson combined on a team-high 18 doubles victories this season, including a 7-3 mark at No. 1 in dual matches. The duo fell in the regular season to Fairleigh Dickinson and Sacred Heart, both in matches in which the opponent needed a ninth point to seal the deal. Kwei and Mikkelson avenged the loss to FDU's Sven Sjoerds and Marco Jemersic with an 8-5 victory in the NEC Semifinals, before their match against SHU's duo of Adam Gart and Michael Syer was halted on serve. In tournament action in the fall, the duo also defeated Bryant's Cristian Balestrieri and Juan-Martin Paredes twice and advanced to the Round of 32 at the ITA Regionals. In addition to two straight All-NEC doubles selections with Kwei, Mikkelson was All-NEC Second Team with Sean Pease in his freshman season.

"James and Brian have great chemistry together on the court," said Quitko. "To be First Team All-NEC two years in a row and still have another year together is a great accomplishment. I look forward to seeing James and Brian continue to improve next season."

Taking Second-Team All-NEC for the second straight season, Lane went 7-3 in singles, including a 5-1 record against NEC opponents at No. 4 after returning to the line-up on March 26. His only losses came against opponents from Harvard, Stony Brook and Fairleigh Dickinson. He won all three of his singles matches in the NEC Tournament, including a 6-0, 6-2, victory over FDU's Yuri Gricheno to avenge a three-set loss to the Knights No. 4 player less than three weeks earlier. He also defeated Bryant's Nicholai Hill, Sacred Heart's Nick Mazzarese twice and Saint Francis' (Pa.) Steven Child, all in straight sets.

"Garrett took his game to a new level in winning all three of his singles matches in the NEC Tournament," said Quitko. "One of the most fulfilling parts of being a coach is watching players improve throughout the course of a season, and Garrett is a great example."

Feldman won 12 of 21 singles matches this season to earn his first All-NEC singles honor, including a 2-1 mark at No. 6 singles after posting a 5-2 record at No. 5 earlier in the season. His only loss at the position came against Fairleigh Dickinson's Andrew Denny in the NEC Championship Semifinals. Feldman's come-from-behind victory (2-6, 6-3, 6-1) over Sacred Heart's Chadd Sullo in the NEC Championship Match gave the Bobcats their fourth league title. Feldman also beat Monmouth's Oliver Grimbly, 6-2, 6-0. Playing up to No. 5 due to injury to Kwei, Feldman went 2-1 against NEC opponents, all finishing in third-set 10-point tie-breakers. He defeated Fairleigh Dickinson's Goren Guy Eliav and Sacred Heart's Michael Syer, while falling to Bryant's Tom Nowak, 11-9.

"Charlie is the heart and soul of our team," said Quitko. "It was appropriate that Charlie clinched the NEC Championship for us this year. He's shown the ability to battle and win matches since the day he came to Quinnipiac as a freshman, and his leadership will be sorely missed next year."