VSU tennis

Anne Corten and the Valdosta State women’s tennis team earned a trip to the NCAA Division II nationals with a 5-0 sweep of Delta State Friday.

VALDOSTA — The Blazers and Lady Blazers are heading back to nationals.

Valdosta State’s men’s and women’s tennis teams earned trips to the Division II national tournament by winning their regionals on Friday.

The Blazers swept Ouachita Baptist 5-0, while earlier in the day, the Lady Blazers dominated Delta State by the same 5-0 score at the VSU Tennis Complex.

The teams will head to Altamonte Springs, Fla. for the nationals, which begin Wednesday. Valdosta State is the defending men’s national champions.

“We’re thrilled to be going back to nationals,” Valdosta State head coach John Hansen said. “That’s our goal every year. I’m very proud of both the boys and the girls. They both played well today.”

Valdosta State’s women, ranked No. 5 in Division II, made quick work of Delta State, taking only about 75 minutes to win their match.

“This is the best I’ve seen our girls play all year,” Hansen said. “Hopefully we’re peaking at the right time. Delta’s a pretty good team. They were the No. 3 team in the region. I thought we did real well.”

The dominance began when the Lady Blazers won all three doubles matches in straight sets. Dominique Rothlaender and Anne Corten scored an 8-3 victory over Paula Uchida and Agnes Koch at No. 1 doubles, Raphaelle Durante and Karine Redon defeated Nancy Lelorrain and Milena Araujo 8-1 at No. 2 doubles, and Natali Gumbrecht and Clair McKinnon won 8-2 over Tatiana Bouchard and Lisa Ortola at No. 3 doubles.

Then in singles, Corten defeated Koch 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3, and Redon closed out the match with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Ortola at No. 5. Rothlaender, Durante, Gumbrecht and McKinnon were also leading their matches when the team wrapped up the win.

With the win, the Lady Blazers improved to 17-5 on the season, while Delta State completed its season with a 15-5 mark. Valdosta State will play Central Region winner Northeastern State (Okla.), ranked No. 10, on Wednesday at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs in the next round of the NCAA tournament.

The Valdosta State men also won 5-0, blanking Ouachita Baptist, but Hansen was quick to admit it wasn’t nearly as easy as the women’s win was.

“The score definitely did not indicate how close that match was,” Hansen said. “It was 5-0, but it easily could have been 5-4 for either team. Every match was close. Ouachita’s got a good team and a great coach, and they played us tough today.

“Both teams played much better than they did last week (at the Gulf South Conference tournament). They played better, and we knew that we had to play better to win.”

With the win, the fifth-ranked Blazers improved to 17-5 on the season, while the Tigers finished their year with a 10-7 mark.

Valdosta State claimed all three doubles points to take control of the match. Dominik Hansen and Leos Jelinik defeated Ondrej Vana and Jakub Smid 8-4 at No. 1, while Mickael Andreo and Thomas Provost claimed an 8-5 win over Isaac Anders and Joan Costa at No. 3. Joerg Ekkenga and Nikolas Overkemping closed out doubles with an 8-6 come-from-behind victory at No. 2.

“When you win all three doubles matches, that really helps a lot,” Hansen said. “Our No. 2 doubles team fell behind, came back, fell behind again, and then came back and won. Our guys played well today.”

VSU closed out the match with victories at No. 5 and No. 6 singles. Overkemping downed Anders 6-3, 6-0 at No. 6 for the fourth point, then Benjamin Cattan defeated Costa 6-3, 6-2 at No. 5.

Valdosta State will meet the Central Region winner, either St. Edwards or Midwestern State, on Wednesday in Altamonte Springs.

Valdosta State’s women made it to the first round of nationals last year. In 2005, the Lady Blazers made the semifinals and were ranked No. 3 at the end of the season.

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