No. 14 Columbus St. into position for first PBC regular-season title
COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Benedikt Wilde had to calmly wait for a match to wrap up before taking the court for the first time on Saturday against fifth-ranked Armstrong Atlantic. In the end, it was well worth the wait as Wilde gave 14th-ranked Columbus State a 5-4 victory against the Pirates on Saturday in Peach Belt Conference action.
With the win, Columbus State snaps Armstrong's PBC regular-season winning streak at 46. It was the first conference loss for the Pirates since February of 2009 and just the second since 2005.
CSU also positions itself to claim a portion of the PBC regular-season championship for the first time in school history. The Cougars have just one conference match remaining this season, coming against Flagler. With a win against the Saints, CSU captures at least a share of the championship.
Columbus State (15-3, 8-1 PBC) took an early lead winning two of the three doubles matches but Armstrong quickly responded by winning two quick singles matches. Before long, Armstrong claimed a 4-3 lead with just first and sixth singles remaining.
In the marquee match, 31st-ranked Oussama Zoghlami was battling 25th-ranked Jaan Kononov. After a back-and-forth start, Zoghlami claimed the first set 6-4 and used his momentum to grab an early lead in set two. Kononov battled back but it was too late as Zoghlami captured the 6-4, 6-4 victory to set up a winner-take-all match at the sixth position.
At the sixth spot, Wilde met Damian Okrutny with the match on the line. Okrunty took a 3-1 lead in the first set before Wilde found his stride and began dictating the match. He won the next five games in the set to grab the 6-3 win. His strong play carried over into the second set as Wilde took command, but Okrunty didn't go away quietly though. Each game was tight with the majority ending in deuces. In the end, Okrutny couldn't handle Wilde's strong backhand as the Cougar captured the match to send CSU to its first victory against the Pirates since the 2005 NCAA tournament.
Adi Malicbegovic also collected a huge win for the Cougars in singles play, winning his match at third singles 6-4, 6-1 against 13th-ranked Pablo Gor.
Armstrong (10-6, 6-1) made it close with wins at second, fourth and fifth singles. At the second spot, 10th-ranked Pedro Scocuglia defeated Marco Almorin 6-2, 6-2 while Ignacio Hernandez took down Danilo Sardelli by the identical score at fourth singles. After a close 6-4 victory in set one at fifth singles, Luca Cerin breezed to a 6-2 victory in set two against Michael Trebuhov to win the match.
Columbus State got off to a great start in doubles action winning two of the three matches. The 10th-ranked duo of Almorin and Malicbegovic were in rhythm on Saturday, taking down fifth-ranked Kononov and Gor 8-5. CSU also won second doubles after Sardelli and Zoghlami defeated Hernandez and Okrutneyh 8-4.
Armstrong avoided the sweep in doubles action at the third spot where Cerin and Scocuglia knocked off Trebuhov and Maciej Kierkus 8-1.