Valdosta State University tennis player Joerg Ekkenga hits the ball during a doubles match with Leos Jelinek, behind Ekkenga, against West Florida Friday afternoon.

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State’s men’s tennis team lost a battle of two of Division II’s elite tennis programs Friday afternoon.

The Blazers, ranked second in the nation, fell 5-4 to Gulf South Conference rival West Florida, the nation’s No. 3 team, Friday on their home courts.

West Florida won two of the three doubles matches, then split the six singles matches, and walked away with a big conference victory.

The deciding singles match came at No. 1 singles, where West Florida’s Eduardo Cavasotti, the No. 23 player in Division II, upset Valdosta State’s Florian Halb, the third-ranked player, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, in the final match of the day.

Valdosta State won at Nos. 2, 3 and 6 singles, while West Florida took Nos. 1, 4 and 5. For Valdosta State, Joerg Ekkenga defeated Nicolas Barrientos 6-2, 6-0, Leos Jelinek defeated Luis Arboleda 6-4, 6-4 and Michael Kuech beat Jose Ycaza 6-4, 7-5. West Florida’s Luiz Bernardi won 6-4, 6-4 and Patrick Bateman won 6-0, 6-2.

Valdosta State has Division II’s top doubles team, Ekkenga and Jelinek, and the two All-Americans gave the Blazers an 8-3 win over Cavasotti and Arboleda, the 13th-ranked team, to start the doubles matches. But Barrientos and Bateman, the 18th-ranked team, defeated Halb and Richard Malobicky 8-6, while Bernardi and Ycaza defeated Kuech and Otto Lenhart 8-4.

Valdosta State’s women, the nation’s No. 4 team, won convincingly, 7-2, over No. 18 West Florida.

The Lady Blazers took five of six singles matches. Raphaelle Durante, the nation’s No. 4 player, defeated No. 45 Paola Arevalo 6-1, 6-3. Natali Gumbrecht, ranked 16th, defeated No. 43 Renata Mattos 6-3, 6-0. Tina Trautmann beat Taylor Brewster 7-5, 6-1, Hollie Bees won 6-2, 6-4 over Lorena Rebolledo and No. 41 Karine Redon won 6-0, 6-2 over Tatiana Rodriques.

In doubles, Redon and Durante, the nation’s No. 6 doubles team, defeated Brewster and Rebolledo 8-5. Gumbrecht and Bees won 8-6 over Rodriques and Mattos. West Florida’s Arevalo and Suzanna Cavalcante, the No. 5 doubles team in Division II, won their match 8-4.

Valdosta State hosts Embry-Riddle at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

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