In a bracket which saw nearly 3,500 total votes cast over four rounds of voting, 16 of the top moments and achievements over the last year have been pared down to just one, as the men’s tennis victory over UIC at the Horizon League Championship has been tabbed the Best of Valpo Athletics for the 2013-2014 season.
The finals alone saw nearly 1,500 votes cast, as the men’s tennis victory faced off against the bowling team, which defeated two of the nation’s top-three teams in back-to-back matches on Feb. 1. Men’s tennis came out ahead in a tight battle for the title of champion, ultimately claiming 54% of the vote in the final round.
The win over UIC at the league tournament was a monumental one for the men’s tennis program, as the Crusaders had not win a matchup in the main draw at the Horizon League Championship since joining the league in 2007. The win capped a record-setting season - one which saw four players break the previous single-season mark for singles wins in a year and two players break the single-season record for doubles victories. It also came in dramatic fashion, coming right down to the final match, with Dave Bacalla winning at no. 2 singles in three sets to secure the win.
“Well, that was huge for our program – just getting there again was a thrill for our team and our coaching staff,” said Crusader head coach Jim Daugherty, reflecting back on the win. “Just all year long, this young group fought and fought - not just in this match, but in other matches where we were in close, tight matches, they’d come through. So I had a good feeling about this one - being in a tight match, knowing that they would probably come through - but it still wreaked havoc on my nerves. It was a fun, fun event – just so thankful to my team and my coaches that we came through.”