GREENWOOD – The No. 4-ranked and second-seeded Lander men's tennis team picked up a 5-1 victory over No. 7-ranked and third-seeded Flager in the NCAA Southeast Regional final on Tuesday afternoon at the Joe Cabri Tennis Center.
With the victory, the Bearcats (22-3) notched their third win of the year over Flagler (19-8) and earned a trip to Surprise, Ariz., where the final 16 teams will compete for the NCAA Championship May 9-12. This marks the Bearcats' fourth trip to the NCAA Round of 16 in six years.
Lander set an NCAA-era program-record with its 22nd win of the season.
"It's not easy to beat a good team three times," said head coach Brett Simpson. "We had to have the right mentality. We were able to play tough and come through in the big moments. Some guys were able to finish it off and in the end, it looks comfortable, but it was a tough match."
The Bearcats picked up two doubles points after senior David Korsten and sophomore Axel Cronje started the match with an 8-4 victory at No. 1. Juniors Eirik Groner and Ozan Cildir earned a second point with an 8-5 win at No. 2.
Leading 2-1 entering singles play, the Bearcats kept the momentum, winning five of six first sets. Freshman Tommaso Rossin put Lander ahead 3-1 with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Daniel Arrien at No. 6. Groner pulled the Bearcats closer with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Luca Bolla at No. 1 and Cronje clinched the victory, defeating Felipe Carvalho 7-5, 6-3 at No. 4.
Lander last made the trip to Surprise, Ariz., in 2015, when the Bearcats advanced all the way to the national semifinals.