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Four is the magic number

The VSU tennis teams swept the Gulf South Conference tournament, with each taking home the Conference championship with identical 5-1 victories.
The men’s victory in the final round secured their fourth title in a row, a feat that has not been accomplished in 17 years in the Gulf South Conference. Part of the reason the team has been able to stay consistent each year is because of its outlook.
“We take each year separate,” said Head Coach John Hansen, who oversees both squads. “Every season is new, so every championship is new.”
In the final round, the men took on the fourth-ranked team in the country, Ouachita Baptist, and only allotted one singles point. Philip Pakebusch and Michael Kuech earned an 8-4 win in top doubles while Daniel Dueren and Christian Hansen took second doubles, 8-3. Otto Lenhart and Frank Sickman cleaned up in the third spot with an 8-6 victory.
Lenhart and Pakebusch earned the winning points in singles play for the Blazers. Pakebusch took down Jan Plewinski of Ouachita Baptist in the top singles spot, 6-0, 6-1. Lenhart took down Pierre Tafelski, 7-5, 6-4.
The women had a complementary performance. They departed doubles with a 2-1 lead over West Florida, needing three singles points. The final points the Lady Blazers needed were provided by Dominique Rothlaender, Hollie Bees, and Sonya Haggstrom, in the fourth, fifth, and sixth spots respectively.
Natali Gumbrecht and Bees teamed up for an 8-3 win in the top doubles spot while Rothlaender and Haggstrom took care of the third position, 8-3.
Although both teams came out with identical, dominating scores, Hansen believes that the matches were not as close as people might assume.
“The scores didn’t indicate how close the matches were by any means,” Hansen said. “I was nervous, very nervous. I’m not the greatest person to sit next to during a match.”
Following the outstanding job by the women, and the record-breaking performance by the men, both squads look forward to the national championships, beginning with regional action next week.
“The teams have been so successful this year so we’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Hansen said. “The biggest thing right now is confidence. They’re all confident that we’re in the hunt and that’s all you can ask for.”
With the conference tournament in the books and the teams focusing on the looming NCAA tournament on May 6 two Blazers were honored as GSC players of the year while Coach Hanson was named the head coach of the year for both teams.
Philip Pakebusch was named the conference player of the year for men’s tennis. The third-ranked nationally singles player helped lead a talented squad to an 18-1 record including a key win over top-ranked Armstrong Atlantic on April 10. The Blazers are currently ranked second in the country behind AASU.
For the women’s team Natali Gumbrecht, No. 6 singles player in the country, was honored as the player on the year after the team went 13-4 and won the conference title. The Lady Blazers made a strong run through the regular season with finishing first in conference and sixth nationally.
Hanson was honored as the head coach of the year in the GSC for the tenth time overall after leading both teams to their fourth straight conference titles and top-10 finishes in the regular season.

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