COLUMBUS, Ga. -- For the second consecutive year, Columbus State and Lander battled to a 5-4 decision in the third round of the NCAA tournament. However this time, the Cougars came out on top advancing to the NCAA tournament Round of 16 for the third time in program history. The third round match of the NCAA Tournament took place at the Mary V. Blackmon Tennis Center on the campus of CSU.
The win avenges Columbus State's loss to Lander earlier this season and also the 5-4 defeat in last season's NCAA tournament match. LU finishes the year with a 17-5 record.
The intensity was there from the beginning as all three doubles matches were tightly contested. Third doubles was the first to end as Maciej Kierkus and Benedikt Wilde held serve for the early portion of the match. However, Vincent Verpeaux and Paulo Fernandes got the upper hand and eventually the 8-6 win.
First doubles featured a top-10 showdown with ninth-ranked Adam Jonsson and Oscar Axelsson battling fifth-ranked Marco Almorin and Adi Malicbegovic. The Bearcat duo jumped out to an early lead eventually building a 7-4 edge. Almorin and Malicbegovic rallied pulling within 7-6 but Jonsson and Axelsson held on to win 8-6.
In one of the most entertaining matches of the day, Oussama Zoghlami and Danilo Sardelli went back-and-forth all match long with Marc Hofer and Niklas Terhorst. With the Cougars needing a key win, Zoghlami and Sardelli delivered for the Cougars winning a 9-8 thriller. The Cougar duo won the tiebreaker 7-5 to capture the match.
The Cougars had their backs to the wall in singles play needing to win four of the six matches to continue on in the tournament.
Almorin quickly tied the match for CSU controlling second singles from the start. He won the match 6-2, 6-2 against Hofer. At third singles, Malicbegovic got off to a slow start against Jonsson but regained his composure winning the match 6-3, 6-4.
However, Lander jumped back in front after wins at fourth and fifth singles. Both matches were very similar. At the fourth spot, Lanne dominated the first set against Sardelli winning 6-2. Sardelli battled back in the second set but it wasn't enough as Lanne held on, winning the match 6-2, 7-5.
Terhorst used the same formula to win at fifth singles. After winning the first set 6-3 versus Michael Trebuhov, Trebuhov gained control of the second set eventually going up 4-1. Terhorst, however, rallied winning the match 6-2, 7-5 to give the Bearcats a 4-3 lead.
Just a few minutes later, Wilde retied the match at 4-all. Wilde was never really in trouble controlling the match from the beginning gaining the 6-4, 6-4 win for the Cougars.
The deciding match came at first singles where 17th-ranked Zoghlami and ninth-ranked Verpeaux met. The first set saw amazing rallies and eventually went into a tiebreaker. Zoghlami prevailed winning the tiebreaker 7-5. Using the momentum, Zoghlami raced to a 6-3 victory in set two clinching the match for the Cougars.
Columbus State will now advance to the NCAA tournament Round of 16 which will take place on Wednesday, May 14 in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The Cougars will take on second-ranked Hawaii Pacific at 4 p.m. ET.