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Western Michigan Men Win Fourth Straight MAC Tournament
Sunday, 04/26/2009
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Western Michigan University Team Page

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. -- With the match knotted at three points each, Western Michigan sophomore Michael Calderone defeated Toledo's Knot Likitkumchorn 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-4 at No. 2 singles to clinch the Broncos fourth consecutive Mid-American Conference Men's Tennis Championship, 4-3, at the Village Glen Tennis Center.

The Broncos (18-8) advance to their fourth consecutive NCAA Men's Tennis Championship in two weeks and seventh NCAA Tournament in school history. Calderone and Kazuya Komada were named to the All-MAC Tournament Team.

"These championships are getting tougher and tougher to win, but each one seems sweeter than the last," head coach Dave Morin said. "Coach Wermer has put together a great squad at Toledo and our hats off to them for giving us everything we could handle. The difference came down to winning the doubles point, and more specifically coming back at three doubles."

Calderone earned an early break against Likitkumchorn to go up 2-1 in the third set, but was subsequently broken to even the score. The match remained on serve with each player saving break points to keep the match even. Calderone held for the final time to go up 5-4 and then won four-straight points to clinch the match and lead to a wild celebration by the rest of the Broncos.

"I think being able to win that final match sums up everything you are as a person," Calderone said. "All the work that all of us put into this comes into that final moment. All of your confidence and insecurities come into play, but I could feel the confidence that my teammates had in me. Their belief that I could win was what helped put me over the top. It's an unbelievable feeling to be in that situation and come through."

"Calderone has been coming up big all year for us and none bigger than today," Morin said. "He saved his most dramatic win for the last match on the last day of the MAC Tournament."

WMU opened up by winning the doubles point, but not without a test. The No. 3 team of Casey Cullen and Pablo Olivarez fell behind, 3-0, and still trailed by three, 5-2, when they started to heat up and won six games in a row to win, 8-5. 

At the same time, the No. 2 tandem of Kevin Hayward and Zeyad Montasser fell behind, 6-4, after being broken. The Broncos came back and broke the Rockets (18-11) and then Montasser held serve to even the match, 6-6. Toledo held on their next service game, followed by a hold from Hayward to keep the match even, 7-7. Hayward and Montasser then got another service break to go up one and secured the doubles point, 9-7, with Montasser holding serve.

Hayward's victory means he becomes the first WMU player to play in four NCAA Tournaments and he has now won seven MAC championships in a row with tournament wins in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and regular season titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Olivarez got the Broncos off to a quick start in doubles by dominating Robbie McCallum 6-4, 6-0 at No. 6 singles.

There was a long break as the remaining five singles matches raged at the indoor facility. The match was moved indoors because of high winds in the Buffalo area. 

Finally, Komada rebounded from losing a one-break advantage to defeat Sven Burus 6-4, 7-6 (4) at No. 3 singles and put the Broncos on the verge of victory, 3-0.

Shortly thereafter the Rockets came back and won at No. 5 singles and No. 4 singles to pull within one, 3-2.

The only remaining matches on the court were at the top two singles positions with Hayward playing Jared Miller at No. 1 and Calderone at No. 2.

Hayward lost the first set at No. 1, but was leading in the second set trying to force a third set, while Calderone was splitting his first two sets. Miller, however, rebounded and closed out Hayward to put all of the pressure on Calderone and Likitkumchorn, with Calderone coming through in the clutch.

"We're extremely proud to represent the MAC in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth year in a row. We're not happy, however, just to get into the tournament. Our goal is to win and advance," Morin said.