May 9, 2009

Courtesy of Lynn

BOCA RATON, Fla. – In a postseason match normally reserved for the national finals, Lynn University’s third-ranked men’s tennis team defeated perennial national powerhouse and fourth-ranked Valdosta State 5-4 to claim the NCAA Division II South Region Championship on Saturday.  The Fighting Knights and Blazers both met in the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Finals with each program claiming a national title.  

Lynn (18-3) advances to the National Round of 16 next week in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Down 4-1, the Knights rallied off four-straight singles victories to claim the win.  Lynn’s fourth point, won by Julien Carsuzaa, gave the senior 72 career victories to put him in a three-way tie for the all-time program record.

A rematch of a 5-4 LU victory earlier in the season, the grudge match did not disappoint.  The Knights struck first, claiming the first point as Carsuzaa and Alessandro Sarra took down the top-ranked doubles tandem of Joerg Ekkenga and Leos Jelinek 8-4 in the top position.

Valdosta State (12-4) found itself on the friendly side of the doubles split, however, to take an early 2-1 lead.  Daniel Dueren and Michael Keuch topped Tomas Racak and Luca Pavanelli 8-5 in the second flight while Florian Halb and Otto Lenhart downed Miloslav Navratil and Alex Voirin 8-4 in the third slot.

In singles, the Blazers grabbed two quick points to take a commanding 4-1 lead as Kuech beat Axel Joachim 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 in the sixth spot and No. 17 Ekkenga defeated Sarra 7-5, 6-2 in the third.

Battling back, the Blue and White responded with straight-set victories from Racak and Pavanelli.  Nineteenth-ranked Racak avenged an earlier season loss to ninth-ranked Halb with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-1) decision, the mirror opposite of his previous score.  Pavanelli also added a win over a ranked foe, dropping No. 45 Jelinik 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).

Down 4-3, Lynn found itself in striking distance as Carsuzaa and Voirin were both beginning their third sets against Dueren and Lenhart, respectively.  Fifth-ranked Carsuzaa came out firing in the third to even the score against the third-ranked Dueren from their previous match with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 win.

With the contest tied, it all came down to Voirin and Lenhart at the fifth singles position.  Knotted at 4-4, a Voirin break put the ball in his hand for the chance to close out the win on his serve.  Going ahead 40-15, Lenhart was unable to put the first service back over the net as Voirin won 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 and the Knights claimed the regional championship.

Lynn returns to action on Wednesday in the Division II National Tournament in Altamonte Springs, Fla., hosted by the Central Florida Sports Commission and Rollins College.  The Knights face Kutztown (Pa.) in the Round of 16.