Dec. 3, 2008

Courtesy of Armstrong Atlantic State Athletics

HOUSTON - Undefeated all-season long, top-ranked for the last three months - the Armstrong Atlantic State men's tennis team is the 2008 NCAA Division II Champion for now and forever.

The Pirates clinched the first men's tennis national championship in school history with a 5-0 victory over No. 5-ranked Barry at the Memorial Park Tennis Center in Houston, Texas, May 17.

The win also gives Armstrong Atlantic State a rare double, winning the men's and women's tennis crowns in the same season for the first time since BYU-Hawaii accomplished the feat in 2003. The AASU women won the school's fourth NCAA DII tennis title with a 5-2 win over Lynn earlier in the day.

AASU (31-0) started quickly in the match by picking up two doubles wins. The 18th-ranked duo of Christian Bergh and Robert Jendelund notched an 8-3 win at No. 2 doubles over Emmanuel Fraitzl and Jakub Fejfar. The sixth-ranked duo of Rafael Array and Tim Johannsen also won, 8-3, at No. 1 doubles over the fifth-ranked duo of Patrick Rittenauer and Ales Svigelj. The Pirates led at No. 3 doubles, 7-5, but Barry fought off two break points before rain began to fall, halting play.

After a 42-minute delay, Barry's duo of Andrew Sharnov and Roman Werschel pushed the game to 7-6, but Paul Bishop and Davor Zink closed out on Bishop's serve with an 8-6 victory, giving the Pirates a commanding 3-0 lead.

Singles started with both teams taking three first sets. The Pirates enjoyed advantages at No. 1, No. 5 and No. 6 singles, with the Bucs taking leads at No. 2, No. 5 and No. 6 singles. Freshman Tim Johannsen, ranked sixth in singles, completed a 6-2, 6-3 win over 15th-ranked Patrick Rittenauer at No. 1 singles. Barely three minutes later, 50th-ranked sophomore Christian Bergh clinched the victory with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Roman Werschel at No. 5 singles.

The first meeting between the two teams was a tight affair, at Barry with Armstrong Atlantic eeking out a 5-4 victory. AASU's men's tennis title came in its first appearance in the championship match, and is also the Pirates' first-ever NCAA Championship in a men's sport.