GREENWOOD – The No. 8-ranked Lander men's tennis team earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday, the 14th consecutive appearance for the Bearcats. Lander is the No. 5 seed in Southeast Regional I, which will be held in Columbus, Ga.
Lander (17-5) will play No. 4-ranked and fourth-seeded Flagler (16-7) in the first round on Saturday at 12:00 p.m., with the host, No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Columbus State (23-2), facing eighth-seeded Limestone (13-7) in the first match of the day at 9:00 a.m. The two winners will face each other Sunday at 1:00 p.m. for the right to advance to Altamonte Springs, Fla., for the championships on May 21-24.
The Bearcats have reached the NCAA Tournament in every season under head coach Brett Simpson. Last season, Lander defeated Georgia College, 5-2, and Flagler, 5-1, before falling to Washburn in the round of 16.
This year's Lander team features one of the nation's top doubles teams with the No. 4-ranked duo of junior Axel Cronje and sophomore Adam Elliget (14-4 record). Seniors Ozan Cildir (11-4) and Eirik Groner (7-3) have anchored the Bearcats in singles action, along with sophomore Thomas De Negri, who has a team-high 12 wins on the season.
Lander is one of five Peach Belt Conference teams to reach the NCAA Tournament, including Columbus State, Flagler, No. 5-ranked and second-seeded USC Aiken, and No. 14-ranked and seventh-seeded North Georgia.