UNCG wins SoCon men's tennis title, downs Elon in thriller, 4-3
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Playing in arguably the biggest set in the UNC Greensboro men's tennis program's history, Yaroslav Litus and Jacob Wright won four of the final five games to win a decisive doubles match and lift UNCG past Elon, 4-3, in the title match at the 2010 Southern Conference Men's Tennis Championship on Sunday afternoon.
The win gave UNCG (17-5) its first conference title in men's tennis since 1995 and its first automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It will be the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament in men's tennis on any level (Division I, II or III). The Spartans last won a conference tournament title in 1995 when it defeated Charleston Southern for the Big South Tournament crown. NCAA automatic bids were not attached to conference championships at that time.
UNCG also won five conference titles in the 1970s and 1980s as a member of the Dixie Conference.
The opening round of the NCAA Tournament will be played on May 14, 15 and 16 at 16 campus sites around the country. The 64-team bracket is slated to be unveiled on ESPNNews on Tuesday, May 4.
Elon (9-14) was making its fourth straight appearance in the SoCon title match. The Phoenix have now lost in the title match three consecutive years.
The match was a marathon as the teams had to endure a three-hour rain delay at the start and a change of venue to go back into Charleston to the campus of The Citadel, rather than playing at Patriots Point. Due to the threat of more inclement weather, the decision was made to play the singles matches first. But the teams split those, 3-3.
UNCG's Orcun Seyrek and Arsel Kumdereli came away with an 8-3 victory over Chase Helpingstine and Alberto Rojas at No. 1 doubles but Elon responded minutes later with an 8-3 victory at No. 2 doubles as Philip Nemec and Cody Stauffer-MacDowell downed William John and Timion Meijs. From there the match rested on the outcome of the doubles match on court three.
With the No. 3 doubles proset tied at 4-4, Litus and Wright shifted into another gear, winning four of the last five game to win the set, 8-5, and give UNCG its first title in 15 years. It was the second straight day that the duo played a big part in the day's outcome having won a 9-8 proset on Saturday to give UNCG an early 1-0 lead over Furman in the semifinals. It gave the duo their team-best 18th win on doubles play together this season, raising their mark to 18-9 on the season.
Rojas gave the Phoenix, the tournament's No. 4 seed, a 1-0 lead in the match with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Litus at No. 4 singles. The Spartans answered minutes later, however, when Kumdereli closed out Helpingstine at No. 2 by a 6-1, 6-2 score.
The Phoenix went ahead in the match when Darling posted a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kyle Eddins at No. 6 singles. The Spartans then won the next two singles matches to surge ahead 3-2. Meijs picked up win No. 24 of the year when he held off Stauffer-MacDowell, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 5 singles, while Seyrek pulled out a 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 victory over Nemec at No. 1 singles.
With Seyrek's win, he set a new school record for wins in a season. He is now 28-5 on the year, topping the single-season mark previously held by Alex Lenhoff with 27 wins in 1997. It was Seyrek's 19th win in his last 20 singles matches.
Turner tied the match, however, with his three-set victory over Wright at No. 3 singles. After dropping the first set, 6-4, Turner won the next two sets, 6-4, 6-2 to send the match to doubles play. That set the stage for a thrilling finish in doubles play.
UNC Greensboro 4, Elon University 3
1. Orcun Seyrek (UNCG) def. Philip Nemec (ELON) 6-2, 1-6, 7-5
2. Arsel Kumdereli (UNCG) def. Chase Helpingstine (ELON) 6-1, 6-2
3. Eric Turner (ELON) def. Jacob Wright (UNCG) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
4. Alberto Rojas (ELON) def. Yaroslav Litus (UNCG) 6-4, 6-2
5. Timion Meijs (UNCG) def. Cody S-MacDowell (ELON) 6-3, 6-3
6. Thomas Darling (ELON) def. Kyle Eddins (UNCG) 6-4, 6-4
1. Arsel Kumdereli/Orcun Seyrek (UNCG) def. Chase Helpingstine/Alberto Rojas (ELON) 8-3
2. Philip Nemec/Cody S-MacDowell (ELON) def. William John/Timion Meijs (UNCG) 8-3
3. Yaroslav Litus/Jacob Wright (UNCG) def. Thomas Darling/Eric Turner (ELON) 8-5