MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – When No. 4 Barry University men’s tennis team meets No. 1 Armstrong Atlantic 3 p.m. Friday at Buccaneer Tennis Center, it will be a long-awaited match.
For one, the Buccaneers (14-0) did not get the opportunity to play the Pirates (12-0) last season as their scheduled match in Georgia was rained out. Secondly, Barry knows to be the best it has to beat the best. Right now, Armstrong is the best.
The Pirates are the defending NCAA Division II national champs. They’ve won 42 consecutive matches, dating back to May 11, 2011. Armstrong’s opponent in that match, you ask?
The Buccaneers beat the Pirates, 5-4, in the NCAA Championships Round of 16 on May 11, 2011 in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Earlier that season, Armstrong beat Barry, 6-3, in Miami Shores.
“We are looking forward to playing these types of matches,” junior Romain Costamagna said. “For sure, they are confident, and they keep winning.”
Already this season, the Bucs beat No. 2 West Florida in Valdosta, Ga. The Pirates’ match with the Argonauts, also scheduled for a neutral site in Valdosta in late February, was cancelled.
“They come in as the favorites, but they respect us,” junior Ollie Lemaitre said. “We’re the last team they lost to. There’s a bunch of great players on both teams. If they want to win, they’re really going to have to fight because we’re not going to give them anything.”
Armstrong is 70-2 in dual match singles play this season. Barry is 68-16. The Pirates are 35-1 in doubles matches, while the Buccaneers are 33-9.
This year, the Buccaneers are producing with three new faces and four players who weren’t a part of last year’s team. Senior Max Wimmer took last year off, but has returned this year. Add to that, the Bucs have two new coaches in assistants Frederic Bonal and Francisco Sigaud, giving Barry a staff of five behind head coach George Samuel and assistants Thomas Hipp and Kern Pedersen.
“We keep turning players over, and we keep winning,” Costamagna said. “We are the only team in the U.S. to do that, so I think that’s impressive.”
New faces or not, this is about as big as it gets in college tennis during the regular season. The Buccaneers simply want to put their best product out there before winding down the regular season.
“We have to be loud and proud,” Costamagna said. “We are not just six on the court. We are proud to be Barry. If we win it will give us lots and lots of confidence. We are looking at it to see our level.
And yeah, there’s added incentive with Armstrong penciled in as Friday’s opponent.
“We don’t think too much ahead,” Lemaitre said. “We want to end that winning streak.”
NET NOTE: Be sure to watch NBC-6's Sports Final 11:30 p.m. Sunday night as sports reporter Courtney Fallon will air a piece on longtime Barry tennis coach George Samuel's career achievements. Samuel won his milestone 400th career victory with the men's program against NAIA No. 1 Embry-Riddle earlier this season.