VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State's women had no trouble beating Harding early on. Beating the rain, however, was a different story.
Rain fell on Valdosta off-and-on all day, and it was enough to keep the tennis teams off the courts for most of the first day of the NCAA Division II South Region tennis tournaments, being held on Valdosta State's tennis courts.
"It was an awful day," Valdosta State head coach John Hansen said. "Everyone wanted to play, but with the rain, it was just not possible. It's supposed to clear up (today), though."
Play will resume this morning at 8 a.m. Valdosta State's women will continue their match with Harding, and the No. 30 North Alabama women will continue playing No. 24 Delta State. Then the men will take the court, with Ouachita Baptist playing North Alabama and No. 5 Valdosta State facing Harding.
The winners of the two women's matches will face each other in the region final around noon (weather permitting) for the right to be among the final eight teams, and earn a trip to Orlando for the NCAA championship. The men will do the same, with the final scheduled for around 3 p.m.
In between storms Thursday, Valdosta State, ranked No. 3 in Division II, got started by defeating Harding in all three doubles matches. But after those matches, the rain returned, and they could go no further.
"We started out well. We just couldn't get any further," Hansen said. "The players are itching to play. That's what it's all about. The worst thing is having to sit there and wait (for the rain to stop)."
For the first time ever, Valdosta State's women are ranked ahead of the men. Not that there's much difference -- the women are ranked third and the men are fifth in the country.
"It's nice to have both teams ranked in the top 25," Hansen said.
The VSU women are led by two-time Gulf South Conference East Division Player of the Year Eva Petschnig and fellow first-team all-conference selections (and fellow Germans) Annika Biro and Anne Corten, the GSC East Division Freshman of the Year. Hansen was the GSC East Coach of the Year.
The VSU men are led by Gulf South Conference East Division Player of the Year Christoph Schneider, who was named All-Conference for the third time, and two-time All-Conference players Eduardo Rincon and Philipp Laucht.
The regionals are the first two rounds of the national tournament. Valdosta State is one of eight regional sites.
"It's great to host a regional," Hansen said. "It's more work for us, but it's a great honor."
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