Lynn 5, Florida Southern
Lynn 5, Florida Southern 2May 7, 2005
BOCA RATON, Fla.-The #3 Lynn University men's tennis team clinched their first NCAA Southeast Regional Championship since 1997 today with a 5-2 victory of #17 Florida Southern. The Fighting Knights (17-5) jumped in front of the Moccasins (14-11) 2-1 after the doubles action before grabbing their final three points on the singles' courts. Today's victory sends the Knights to their second appearance in the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament on May 11-14 in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
"When we started this season our ultimate goal was to get to the national tournament and now we've achieved that as a team. I'm very proud of the way we battled today and our players showed a lot of heart this entire weekend in winning this regional championship," head coach Mike Perez said. "It's been a long time since we've gone to nationals, so we're looking forward to getting a chance to prove ourselves."
After seeing its No. 1 doubles team of junior Jan Macko and graduate student Eduardo Morones, the second-ranked duo in the nation, struggle with an 8-0 loss to Gaston Verna and Milos Koprivica, the Knights fought at the second and third spots with a vengeance. Sophomore Regnier Azevedo and Aivarus Balzekas came through with a sounding 8-3 win over Dustin Dixon and Joey Capetillo at No. 2 doubles, while freshman Dennis Verduin and sophomore Dennis Riegraf pounded out an 8-4 victory over Eduardo Fernandez and Josh Berman.
"We know we are strong at all positions in the doubles lineup. Today at the No. 1 spot, the guys just couldn't get it going but we stepped it up as a team to take the early lead," Perez said.
Macko came through with the Knights' first point in singles competition at the No. 4 lineup position with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over John Leavitt. Improving to 16-3 this season, Macko pushed the score to 3-1 in favor of Lynn. Florida Southern tightened up the match with a win at No. 6 singles as Kristian Ulstrand defeated Daniel Zednik 6-4, 6-4. Needing just two points for the team victory, Morones battled to earn a 6-1, 6-7, 6-0 win over Capetillo at the second spot and just minutes later, Riegraf closed out the championship for Lynn downing Berman 7-5, 6-3 at the fifth position.
"We've played so well this weekend as a team and it's great to be able to earn a spot in the national tournament. It's been a long time since this program has competed for a national title, so I'm just proud to be a part of this team," Morones said.
Riegraf has now extended his singles winning streak to 10 matches, dating back to March 20 against Armstrong Atlantic. He also improved to 18-3 on the season, the most victories on the squad.
"At first I didn't realize after I won my match that it was the deciding point but soon after my teammates came running on the court to congratulate me. This is just a great feeling to be able to win this regional championship and now to be able to compete at nationals. I have a bit of a streak going right now and I'm excited for next week," Riegraf said.
The Knights will play the winner of the Central Region Championship between Drury and St. Edwards in the Round of 16 on May 11.
Lynn University 5, Florida Southern 2
1. Aivarus Balzekas (LUM) vs. Gaston Verna (FSC) unfinished
2. Eduardo Morones (LUM) def. Joey Capetillo (FSC) 6-1, 6-7, 6-0
3. Regnier Azevedo (LUM) vs. Milos Koprivica (FSC) unfinished
4. Jan Macko (LUM) def. John Leavitt (FSC) 6-0, 6-4
5. Dennis Riegraf (LUM) def. Josh Berman (FSC) 7-5, 6-3
6. Kristian Ulstrand (FSC) def. Daniel Zednik (LUM) 6-4, 6-4
1. Gaston Verna/Milos Koprivica (FSC) def. Jan Macko/Eduardo Morones (LUM) 8-0
2. Regnier Azevedo/Aivarus Balzekas (LUM) def. Dustin Dixon/Joey Capetillo (FSC) 8-3
3. Dennis Riegraf/Dennis Verduin (LUM) def. Eduardo Fernandez/Josh Berman (FSC) 8-4
Notes: Lynn University 17-5
Florida Southern 14-11
Official: Sally Edwards T-3:00 A-85
NCAA Division II Championships
Southeast Region Final
-- Courtesy Lynn University