EDITOR'S NOTE: The start time of Saturday's championship match has been moved up to 12:00 p.m. due to the threat of rain.
The University of Scranton men's tennis team has its eyes set on the first Landmark Conference championship in program history as the Royals will travel to Goucher on Saturday for the league's title match. First serves between the second-seeded Royals and top-seed Gophers is set for 12:00 p.m. in Baltimore.
Scranton takes a 13-3 overall record and an eight-match win streak into Saturday's championship match. The Royals, who have posted their most wins in a season since the 2010 Royals went 15-6, are looking to avenge a tight, 5-4 regular season setback suffered to Goucher on April 7 at the Birchwood Tennis Club. The Gophers win at Scranton marks the last time the Royals have lost this spring.
Scranton advanced to the Landmark Conference championship match for the first time since 2013 with a 5-2 victory over third-seeded Juniata in a semifinal match played on Wednesday at the Royal Court. The Royals held a 2-1 lead at the conclusion of doubles play and received wins from freshman Tarquin McGurrin (Clarks Summit, Pa./Scranton Prep) (#1), junior Brian Harkins (New Fairfield, Conn./New Fairfield) (#5), and freshman Connor Lemieux (Guilford, Conn./The Gunnery) (#6) in singles action to secure the victory.
McGurrin was a two-match victor for Scranton in the semifinal win over the Eagles.
Harkins and junior Charles Swope (Malvern, Pa./Great Valley) are tied for the team-lead in singles wins with 12 apiece. McGurrin has posted 11 singles victories this season while Lemieux has won 10 matches in singles competition. Harkins, Swope, and Lemieux all posted five victories in Landmark singles action this spring.
Harkins and senior Christian Aksu (Exton, Pa./West Chester East) have posted a team-leading 12 doubles triumphs on the season while and junior Alexander Ochalski (Hopewell, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) has added 11 doubles victories. McGurrin, Swope, and senior Keller McGurrin (Clarks Summit, Pa./Scranton Prep) have added 10 wins apiece in doubles competition.
The Royals were outstanding in Landmark doubles action this spring, posting a combined 17-1 record in conference matches.
Goucher advanced to Saturday's Landmark Conference championship match for the fourth year in a row with a 5-0 victory over fourth-seeded Susquehanna in Wednesday's semifinal round. The Gophers won all three doubles matches by 8-1 score lines before getting a straight sets win from freshman Tetsuya Ota at #1 singles and a 6-1, 6-0 victory from sophomore Frankie Mullinix at #4 singles to punch their ticket to the title contest.
The Gophers are 22-4 overall on the season and earned the top seed in the Landmark Conference tournament with a 7-0 mark against conference opponents that includes the Gophers win at Scranton on April 7.
In the regular season meeting between Goucher and Scranton, the Gophers overcame a 3-0 deficit after singles play by winning five of the six singles matchup to edge the Royals in a match played indoors at the Birchwood Tennis Center.
Sophomore Slade Dumas leads Goucher with 21 singles victories on the season while Ota and senior Jack Hodges have 17 wins in singles play each. Dumas and Hodges both went a perfect 6-0 in singles play against conference opponents this spring.
Dumas and Hodges have 15 victories in doubles play this season while Hodges, Mullinix, junior Elliot Diehl, and sophomore Michael Herman have posted 14 doubles triumphs each on the campaign.
Saturday's winner will claim the Landmark Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The national championship field will be announced on Monday at noon via an NCAA.com press release.