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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Sadruzzaman Breaks LEC Record!

File Photo
File Photo

“Nice to be done!” Senior Quazi Sadruzzaman, captain of the UMass Boston men’s tennis team, expressed his feelings right after winning his fourth consecutive Little East Conference #1 Singles Championship, a feat never before accomplished in the history of the LEC. Sadruzzaman added another trophy to his collection by winning the #1 doubles tournament with Dat Nguyen in the two-day event at Deering Oaks in Portland, Maine on May 7 and 8. The Beacons finished at fourth place among six competitors, with UMass Dartmouth winning overall.

Sadruzzaman’s college career finale wasn’t handed to him. In the final #1 singles match (6-4, 6-3), he had difficulty dealing with effective drop shots by Salem State College’s Derek Boudreau. This forced Sadruzzaman to run back and forth, causing cramps in both legs in the second set. Sadruzzaman played a total of four matches, or ten sets, in two days.

“If I lost the second set, the match would be totally different. My opponent was not a player who was going to give up,” Sadruzzaman commented. But he surpassed Boudreau in consistency and mental toughness to get through three more games and win fourteen consecutive #1 singles matches.

Coaches and players from other teams came to celebrate and shake hands with the conference’s most feared player four years running.

Sadruzzaman said he thought the #1 doubles final was the best match of the event. He and Nguyen came back from 0-4 in the third set to win six straight games, completing what teammate Anthony Esper described as, “the greatest comeback in tennis history.” They defeated the defending champions, Todd Cabral and Dan Cohen of UMass Dartmouth (3-6, 6-3, 6-4).

The match itself was somewhat unorthodox. Sadruzzaman and Nguyen stayed on the baseline while the UMD pair played close to the net. As both pairs played in their favorite styles, UMD took a decisive lead, two games away from winning back-to-back championships.

Despite the odds, the UMB pair did not change their playing style, as they had defeated the same pair on April 3 by using the baseline strategy. “All the games we lost were close. It was tough to play deuce again and again and lose it. Then we talked and decided to keep focusing on hitting our best shots,” Nguyen said.

Both Sadruzzaman and Nguyen agreed that they gained momentum when they won a close game 4-2, and after that the points started piling up for the Beacon pair, who felt they had already won the match psychologically. Powerful, well-controlled Beacon shots left the UMD pair scrambling to return volleys, only to have them hit the net.

“They were really good players, they didn’t have much weakness, but we never gave up. This tournament was the best [in my four years] because I won doubles,” Sadruzzaman said.

As a #2 singles, Nguyen won a first-round match (8-2), but lost the semi final (6-4, 6-3).

Number four singles Jay Lee won a first-round match (8-4), and #6 singles Trung Thoi Phan, nicknamed the “People’s Champ,” won a consolation match (8-2).

Coach Briggs said of the two, “They practiced very hard and grew up in a short period of time.” Lee picked up three wins in the second half of the season after losing six straight, and Phan struck back at a player who had defeated him in the regular season.

The Beacons lost their other matches: #3 singles Emilio Vallejo in the first round (8-1), and a consolation match (8-4); #5 singles Ryu Ngo in the first round (8-1), and a consolation match (8-5); #2 doubles Vallejo and Lee in the first round (9-7), and a consolation match (9-8); and #3 doubles Ngo and Esper in the first round (8-5), and a consolation match (8-4).

Sadruzzaman concluded his amazing tennis career at UMB with five championships in four years, this year holding an undefeated, 12-0 record in #1 singles and a 9-3 record in #1 doubles. He was named LEC Player of the Week twice in the five-week season, the only one in the conference to do so.

He said that playing tennis at UMB was not all about conquering his rivals, it has also been a chance to grow. “I think I have become a better person,” Sadruzzaman said, explaining that several years ago, he sometimes rudely pumped his fists at opponents when he won points. But now he says he wouldn’t do such a thing even if provoked.

The team will face a big hurdle after Sadruzzaman, reliable both as a player and a leader, leaves. Nguyen will become the #1 singles player, but Coach Briggs remains uncertain about the next team captain.

“I’m going to play in Quazi [Sadruzzaman]’s position. It’s going to be tough,” Nguyen commented.

Briggs finished his first year as a Beacons coach with 2-10 regular season record and fourth-place finish in the championships. The team showed it was making progress, winning twice after losing eight straight games. Since all but Sadruzzaman and Nguyen were rookies, Briggs said, “I was glad to see the team has grown up from the beginning of the season. I hope they had a good experience. This team was a fun group to be with. They were good listeners and hard workers.”

About the Contributor
Shun Hasegawa served as the sports editor for The Mass Media for the following years: 2004-2005