COLUMBUS, GA & AIKEN, S.C. – Five PBC men's tennis teams began NCAA competition on Saturday at two sites for the Southeast Regional. In Columbus, top-seeded Columbus State defeated Limestone 4-0 while fifth-seeded Lander upended fourth-seeded Flagler 4-3. In Aiken, second-seeded USC Aiken, hosting a regional for the first time, defeated #7 North Georgia 4-1.
For Columbus State, KP Pannu and Tommaso Schold notched the first win at second doubles picking up a 6-1 win over their counterparts. Top-ranked Zach Whaanga and Alvaro Regalado would then secure the doubles point for CSU winning at first 6-3. Matei Avram and Fabien Asdrubal went unfinished 5-3 over at third.
After a couple of tightly contested matches at doubles, the Cougars opened the match up with their dominating singles play.
34th-ranked Whaanga picked up the first singles point winning 6-2, 6-0 in straight sets at second singles. After giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead, first and third singles would immediately wrap up their matches to lock down the CSU victory.
Top-ranked Pannu grabbed a 6-1, 6-3 straight set win while Asdrubal finished his match 6-2, 6-3 at third to clinch the first round win.
The other three singles courts went unfinished but all three saw Columbus State in front. 25th-ranked Regalado took his first set 7-6 while 54th-ranked Arnold Kokulewski was on top 6-2, 5-1. Over at sixth singles it was 67th-ranked Avram who was out in front 6-0, 5-2 as the match concluded.
The Lander Bearcats (18-5) earned their second win of the year over Flagler (16-8) and advance to the Southeast Regional championship where they will take on No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Columbus State (24-2) on Sunday, May 12 at 9:00 a.m.
The Bearacts picked up the doubles point after Eirik Groner and Adam Elliget picked up a 6-2 victory at No. 2. Ozan Cildir and Omar El-Moslemany clinched the point with a 6-3 win at No. 3.
In singles, Flagler moved ahead with wins at the No. 1 and No. 4 spots before Elliget rallied for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 6 to tie the match at 2-2. Thomas De Negri followed suit with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 comeback win at No. 5. The Saints notched a third-set win at No. 3, tying the match once more and setting up a winner-take-all battle on court four. Cildir outlasted Felipe Carvalho 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 to put the Bearcats into the regional final and gave Lander its 25th win in 26 all-time NCAA Tournament openers.
Lander is playing in its seventh consecutive Southeast Regional final and is looking to advance to the NCAA Round of 16 for the fifth time in seven seasons.
USCA notched a 4-1 victory over No. 14 North Georgia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday afternoon.
The Pacers improve to 17-3 on the year while the Nighthawks conclude their year at 15-8.
Head coach Steve Dahm's team fell behind early in doubles action after Francesco Satta and Alex Sklizovic dropped a 6-4 contest at No. 3 doubles. However, the dyad of Salvador Bandeira and Antonio Sabugueiro, ranked No. 6 nationally, posted a 6-4 victory. USC Aiken earned the doubles point with a 7-6 (7-0) win at No. 2 thanks in part to the duo of Vicente Andrades and Tales Silva.
Dahm's team increased the lead to 2-0 as Alvaro Garcia Gil claimed a 6-0, 6-4 victory at No. 5 singles. After the Nighthawks closed the gap to 2-1, Satta gave the home team a 3-1 advantage after earning a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 6. Sabugueiro clinched the match with a 6-3, 6-4 victory at No. 3 singles.
The Pacers return to action tomorrow morning in the NCAA Second Round against either Wingate or Queens at 9 a.m.