VALDOSTA -- John Hansen is making travel plans again for his Valdosta State men's tennis team.
VSU is back in nationals, thanks to a 5-1 victory over Ouachita Baptist Saturday in a South Regional matchup.
"We played real well. We had a couple spots where the guys were a little nervous, but they came through," said Hansen, Valdosta State's head coach. "They were up for it today, and hopefully we're building confidence."
Nationals, with the top 16 teams in Division II, will start Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo. It will be yet another appearance for Valdosta State in the nationals. Hansen couldn't remember, off the top of his head, the last year VSU missed the event.
"Nationals has always been very fun, and we're looking forward to it," Hansen said. "Everybody there will be good- they're the best 16 teams. If you can't get up for that, there's something wrong."
For the Blazers, Saturday was also a chance to put last month's surprising upset loss to West Florida in the Gulf South Tournament behind them. The loss had stung, but VSU showed no ill effects Saturday.
"This match gave us a lot of confidence," Hansen said. "We'd been down since the West Florida match, but we'd had good practices, and I think we're going to be ready (for nationals)."
The morning got off on the right foot, with the Blazers winning two of three doubles matches. Tobias Huning and Marco Borges defeated Ouachita's Gilles Lagardere and Raul Bermudez in No. 1 doubles, 8-4, while Peter Kreutzfeldt and Andrew Davies defeated OBU's Johan Ohlsson and and Andre Edwall at No. 2 doubles, 8-5.
Ouachita's Johan Nyberg and Karsten Zimney got OBU's lone win, defeating Andy von Michaelis and Philipp Laucht of VSU in No. 3 doubles.
Leading 2-1, Valdosta State needed to win three of the six singles matches to advance, but the Blazers only needed three more matches to seal the win.
Huning, the Gulf South East Player of the Year, defeated Lagardere in No. 1 singles, 6-3, 6-3. Laucht beat Edwall 6-1, 6-3 in No. 3, and Kreutzfeldt finished off Nyberg by the same score at No. 4 singles, giving VSU the five points needed to win. The Blazers were winning two of the other three matches, and the other one was tied at one set apiece.
"Toby (Huning) had a great match at No. 1," Hansen said. "The No.1 doubles always plays well. Marco was struggling a little bit, but won the first-set in a tiebreaker. Philipp and Peter just breezed through their guys. Andy won the first set of his match in a tiebreaker, and Andrew had split the first two sets. I have confidence in all my guys."
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