May 13, 2010

By Jarrod Rudolph
Special to

Altamonte Springs, Fla - Defending champion Armstrong Atlantic was eliminated from team competition Thursday at the Division II men's NCAA tennis championships at Sanlando Tennis Park. In the most impressive showing of the day, the Barry Buccaneers (23-6) punched their ticket to the Final Four, sending the defending champions packing with a 5-2 victory.

The Buccaneers (Miami Shores, Fla) will be joined in the Final Four by Valdosta (Ga.) State, Concordia (NY) and Columbus (Ga.) State.

Only three teams have been able to successfully complete the three-peat (SIU Edwardsville, Lander and UC Irvine). The two-time champions Armstrong Atlantic Pirates (30-2) had defeated Barry in the last two national championship games. The Pirates were the winners of eight consecutive games before having their championship bid ended.

Though Barry has the distinction of being the team to eliminate the champions, it will have to get past Concordia to reach Saturday's final. Valdosta State will play Columbus State in the other semifinal on Friday.

Valdosta State defeated Abilene Christian 5-1: Winning two of three doubles matches, the Blazers jumped out to an early 2-1 lead en route to the Final Four. Led by impressive victories in singles competition by Daniel Dueren (6-0, 6-2), Konstantin Kutschenko (6-2, 6-0) and Michael Kuech (6-1, 6-1) Valdosta State quickly put the match out of Abilene Christian's reach.

Columbus State defeated Northwood,5-1: Led by dominating performances in singles competition by Christophe Noblet, Daniel Stomberg and Olivier Simonet, all of whom won in two sets, the Cougars shut the door on any chance of a Northwood (Mich.) victory. Columbus State set the stage early taking two-of-three doubles matches.

Concordia defeated St. Edwards, 5-1: In a battle of the lower-seeded teams, the Clippers from Concordia advanced to the Final Four. Winning two-of-three exciting doubles matches, Concordia clinched its spot in the semifinals with dominating play in singles competition. Impressive wins by Alex Grubin (6-0, 6-4) and Andreas Lindell (6-2, 6-2) the Clippers move one step closer to the national championship game.

Barry University defeated Armstrong Atlantic, 5-2: The third time was the charm for fourth-ranked Barry University. Losing the last two national championship games to Armstrong Atlantic (three straight meetings), the Buccaneers finally cleared their biggest hurdle.

The Buccaneers jumped out to an early 2-1 lead, taking two of three doubles matches. Feeling the championship slipping away, Armstrong Atlantic started their rally as Rafeal Array won his singles match 7-5, 6-2.

The Bucs, however, wouldn't allow the champions to steal the victory, and Andrew Sharnov (5-7, 6-1, 6-2) and Simon Raagaard (6-0, 3-6, 6-3) both won to secure the victory.