May 14, 2010

Jarrod Rudolph, Special to NCAA.com

Altamonte Spring, Fla. - The Barry University Division II men's tennis team is back in familiar territory, advancing to the national championship game with hopes of winning their first national title. Barry, which has lost twice in the finals, advanced with a 5-0 victory over Concordia (NY) on Friday at Sanlando Tennis Park.

Fifth-ranked Barry (Miami Shores, Fla.) will go up against the top-ranked Valdosta State (Ga.) Blazers, who defeated Columbus State, 5-0, en route to their third championship appearance in the last five years.

The Buccaneers know they're in for a fight, but is confident that their experience and chemistry will lead them to their first championship.

"It's based on a lot of experience. It's not the first time we've been here; thank goodness we're here again," said Barry coach Dr. George Samuel. "Over the past two years we've learned a lot of things and tried to make adjustments to help us win the championship this year."

Barry fought hard in last year's title game, only to fall short to two-time champion Armstrong Atlantic, which Barry beat in the quarterfinals this year. Barry dealt with disappointment, but never allowed it to derail the championship dream.
"Every year is a new year and you have to take it like that," Samuel said. "Because you don't win it the first two times doesn't mean you can't win it. When you get to the final, like last year, and you lose it by one point, that's not a bad loss. But it's not a win either.

The Buccaneers overcame one of the major obstacles, eliminating Armstrong Atlantic, 5-2, in the quarterfinals, stopping a four-game losing streak to the Pirates - including the last two championship games.

"It's about time, we're due," Samuel said. "We haven't put our tails in between our legs and said 'We can't do this.' We've learned from it. How does it feel? Really great, but that doesn't give us the championship. We've finally beaten them and I think we've beaten every team in the Top 10 this year. Now we need to put it all together for the last match."
Barry carried the momentum from Thursday's win into the semifinal.

"The key today was proper preparation," he said. "We try to come out and be as structured as we can. We do very specific warm-ups when we come out in the morning. We prepare ourselves with proper nutrition and a good night's sleep. The combination of those things and trying to keep the chemistry together are some of the main ingredients for success."
Valdosta State swept the doubles competition and singles players Daniel Dueren and Philip Pakebusch won their matches in straight sets.

The men's championship is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday.