FUS men’s tennis team wins AMCC, off to NCAAs

WEXFORD, Pa. – With a fist pump and a yell from No. 1 singles player and team captain Paul Jarzynka, the Franciscan University of Steubenville men’s tennis team won the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship Sunday with a 5-2 victory over defending champion Penn State-Behrend.

Their second title in three years will send the Barons to the regional NCAA Championships, the first FUS team to qualify for NCAA postseason competition.

“This is a new experience,” head coach Jeremy Ellis said. “We have wanted this for so long and we have talked about this moment since the beginning of the season. This year shows their character on and off the court. They are fighters.”

The Barons won two-of-three doubles matches in the newly restructured first-to-five playoff structure.

Captian Paul Jarzynka and junior Brian Robau pulled out a back-and-forth 9-7 victory.

“At one point we were down 3-2 and we went back and forth all match,” Jarzynka said. “We knew we could beat them. Brian told me they were nervous and it helped us gain confidence and return better.”

Freshman Zack Quiza and junior Leonel Lacaya matched their teammates by winning the No. 2 doubles match 8-6.

Lacaya won his No. 2 singles match 6-0, 6-0 and, after the Lions won No. 6 singles, Robau earned another point with a 6-2, 6-3 decision.

Jarzynka who earned the final point for FUS, letting out a yell as his opponent failed to return his final shot.

“It was so sweet to get the final victory,” said Jarzynka who won his match 7-5, 6-4. “Coach told me during the match that it was a race to get the final point between me and Zack (Quiza). I’m glad that I got it for him.”

After the game, Jarzynka was informed that Ellis intentionally told him the wrong score in Quiza’s match in order to loosen him up. In reality Quiza was down 6-5 in his second set and was playing out of view from Jarzynka’s court.

With the regional tournament potentially coming during or after Franciscan’s graduation day next month, senior John Shultis told his coach that he would gladly skip the ceremony in order to play.

“That’s dedication,” Ellis said. “That’s what our whole team is based on.”