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Blazers eye GSC finals

VALDOSTA, Ga. – The VSU men’s tennis team storms in to the Gulf South Conference tournament this weekend, riding the momentum from an impressive victory over No. 1 ranked Armstrong Atlantic.
The Blazers claimed all three points in doubles play, beginning with an 8-6 victory where Philip Pakebusch and Michael Kuech defeated top-ranked Rafael Array and Mikk Irdoja of the Pirates. Blazers Frank Sickman and Otto Lenhart also earned an 8-6 win over Eudaldo Bonet and Paul Fitzgerald.
Armstrong’s Matus Mydla and Daniel Regan jumped out to a 4-1 lead before VSU standouts Daniel Dueren and Christian Hansen wrestled their way back to an 8-7 lead. The Armstrong pair recovered in the next game and snagged a 6-4 lead in the tiebreaker. However, they could not hold off the strong forces of Dueren and Hansen, who seized the final four points of the match for a 9-8 (6) victory to earn VSU a sweep in doubles.
The Pirates got on the board early in singles, as Mydla defeated Lenhart 6-2, 6- before Packebusch brought the Blazers back to within a point of victory with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Bonet. Ultimately Hansen posted the match winning point as he topped Array 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
The victory secured the Blazers No. 1 overall seed in the Gulf South Conference tournament this weekend and most likely the No. 1 ranking in all of Division II tennis.
“We’re definitely feeling positive emotions after the win,” Dueren said. “We set our expectations high and didn’t know if we could pull it out so we’re very proud to have beaten the number one team in the nation.”
Dueren also believed that playing at home in front of a great crowd Saturday was a factor in building confidence for the Blazers. After all, the student body only had five chances to see their squad play at home this season, as most of their 19 events were on the road.
“The crowd was amazing,” Dueren said. “Everyone was motivated to play their best. We were very thankful to see that many people in the stands.”
The Blazers now return to Montgomery, Ala. this weekend where they claimed a victory two weeks ago in the Auburn-Montgomery Invitational. This time however, the trip is for the Conference tournament, so stakes will be higher. VSU has high expectations because if they win the Conference playoff, the crew will earn a home match in the regional round of the national championships against the team that handed them their only loss this season, No. 2 Barry.
“There are no excuses, we have to win this weekend,” Dueren said. “We will be the best team there and a home match in regionals is very important.”

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