Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

May 15, 2011

Twice is nice

Blazers get revenge on Barry, win their second national championship

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. —

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — It was a great day for the Valdosta State Blazers.

Valdosta State’s men’s tennis team won the Division II national championship on Saturday. The Blazers defeated Barry 5-2 in the championship match at Sanlando Park, near Orlando.

It was the Blazers’ second national championship. The 2011 championship trophy will join the 2006 trophy in Valdosta State’s trophy case.

“It was very exciting,” Valdosta State head coach John Hansen said. “It’s a great team. You can’t ask for a better bunch of guys.”

“I am just completely happy that we did it,” said Valdosta State’s Philip Pakebusch, the Division II National Player of the Year. “I cannot describe how I feel. There’s no words. I am just happy and excited.”

“This means a lot to us to win the national championship,” added senior Daniel Dueren.

It was truly a team effort for the Blazers. Five different Valdosta State players won either a singles match or a doubles match on Saturday.

“It was a total team victory,” Hansen said.

Valdosta State went 21-1 this season.

On Saturday, Valdosta State grabbed an early lead by winning two of the three doubles matches. The Blazers’ No. 1 doubles team of Dueren and Christian Hansen and their No. 2 doubles team, Pakebusch and Luis Loeffler, both came out on fire.

Pakebusch and Loeffler won seven straight games and built a 7-1 lead, on their way to an 8-2 win over Barry’s Marco Mokrzycki and Quentin Vachez.

“We came out pretty strong, and we just played good,” Pakebusch said. “We made the important points, and we won 8-2. We played very well.”

Dueren and Christian Hansen won the first five games of their match, built leads of 5-0 and 7-1 and won their match 8-3 over Emanuel Fraitzl and Max Wimmer.

“It was huge (to win two doubles matches),” Coach Hansen said.

Barry’s Sergio Velez and Ollie Lemaitre won the No. 3 doubles match 8-6 over Bernhard Wallner and Konstantin Kutschenko.

With a 2-1 lead after the doubles matches, the Blazers needed to win three of the six singles matches to become national champions.

Barry’s Romain Costamagna tied the match with a 6-1, 6-3 win over VSU’s Otto Lenhart at No. 6 singles.

The first sets of the other five singles matches were all close. Four of them were decided by tiebreakers, and Dueren won his first set 7-5.

Kutschenko won his first set tiebreaker, then dominated the second set of his No. 5 singles match. He won the first four games of the second set, then after Lemaitre won a game, Kutschenko won the final two games and closed out a 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 victory, putting the Blazers back on top, 3-2.

“(Kutschenko) has had a great year at No. 5,” Coach Hansen said.

Christian Hansen earned the Blazers’ fourth victory. He battled through a tough first set and won the tiebreaker 7-4 over Mokrzycki. Early in the second set, Hansen broke Mokrzycki’s serve. After that break, he held serve the rest of the match, and won 6-4.

“Christian just beat a great player,” Coach Hansen said.

Like Kutschenko and Christian Hansen, Loeffler won a first set tiebreaker, 8-6, in his No. 4 singles match against Vachez. In the seventh game of the second set, Loeffler broke Vachez’s serve, then won the next game as well to take a 5-3 lead.

About two or three minutes after Christian Hansen won his match, Loeffler reached match point. On match point, Vachez tried to hit a return, and Loeffler watched it sail wide for the final point. Loeffler was victorious — and the Blazers were the national champions.

Immediately after the match was over, Loeffler’s teammates rushed onto the court to celebrate. A dogpile ensued on the court, and the Blazers spent several minutes celebrating their championship. After Coach Hansen’s interview with a television station was done, the players dumped a cooler of water on him.

Because VSU had already wrapped up the national championship, Pakebusch and Dueren’s matches were not completed. Pakebusch had split the first two sets with Fraitzl at No. 1 singles, while Dueren won the first set against Wimmer in the No. 2 singles match.

During the trophy presentation, VSU graduate assistant coach Tobias Fimmel was chosen to introduce the team. While Pakebusch is the Blazers’ actual No. 1 singles player, Fimmel introduced every player as VSU’s No. 1 player, which was fitting, because, as their coach later said, all of them played a part in this national championship.

“We had a great team,” Coach Hansen said.

After the trophy presentation, the Blazers continued their celebration. They posed for pictures with the trophy. They invited the huge crowd of Blazer fans onto the court for pictures. Then they packed up their vans — and their newly-earned trophy — and left Sanlando Park to continue their celebration well into the night.

A year ago, VSU and Barry had staged a dogfight at Sanlando Park for the national championship, which was ultimately won 5-4 by Barry. On Saturday, they met again for the title — and this time, it was the Blazers who walked away as the champions.

The championship was a great way for VSU’s four seniors — Pakebusch, Dueren, Lenhart and Frank Sickman — to end their VSU careers.

“It’s a really big thing. It’s the (highlight) of my college career,” Pakebusch said.

“I am so glad I was able to win a national championship with this team,” Dueren said.

During his acceptance speech, Hansen thanked the fans who came to Altamonte Springs to support the Blazers. A large group of people drove down from Valdosta to cheer for their hometown team, including several members of the VSU athletic department and most of VSU’s women’s tennis team.

“I don’t know if we could have done it without all the support we got from the community. It was great,” Coach Hansen said.

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0728-Lowndes practice4.jpg Vikings working out with padded practice, scrimmage on the horizon

    The look was familiar Monday at Martin Stadium.
    The Lowndes High football team’s conditioning practice was essentially a duplicate of the workouts the Vikings have completed throughout the summer.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thomasville_Ryals.jpg South Georgia special for high school coaches

    Phillip Johnson remembers when he had a “Wizard of Oz” moment.
    The North Carolina native moved to Georgia when he was 26 and Johnson, now Lanier County’s second-year head coach, recalls a 7-on-7 tournament leading to the realization that he wasn’t in Kansas — or in his case, North Carolina — anymore.
     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth

    More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.

    July 28, 2014

  • Braves trio all business at inductions

    The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
    Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
    Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.
     

    July 28, 2014

  • Cooperstown Merchants: Weekend was a success

    Cooperstown merchants are elated about the exceptionally prosperous Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, several storekeepers said Sunday.

    During an afternoon lull in business, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony was taking place, area shop and restaurant owners took a quick breath, reflected and expressed satisfaction with their sales for the weekend.
     

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall of Famers thank fathers for stepping up to the plate

    Great ballplayers thanking their dads at a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is about as original as oil and vinegar are to an Italian restaurant.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall_Maddux.jpg Hall of Braves

    The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
    "Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
    "The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Hall_Cox.jpg Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches

    Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Valwood_Henderson.jpg Area teams hoping to get over the hump

    Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
    That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
    It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Blazers Blog
More