NCAA Men's Tennis: Cougars Heading Back to Round of 16

NCAA Men's Tennis: Cougars Heading Back to Round of 16

COLUMBUS - The match went the distance, but the third-ranked and top-seeded Columbus State University men's tennis team outlasted Flagler 5-4 in the NCAA Tournament second round Sunday. The match was played at the John W. Walden CSU Tennis Complex.

Columbus State (23-3) will now head to the NCAA Round of 16 with the next match scheduled for Tuesday, May 9 in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

"This group never gives up," head coach Evan Isaacs said. "They faced some serious adversity today and were able to battle through it.

"Paul (Sprengelmeijer) stepped up when we needed him to and we were able to hold off a very good Flagler team."

The day got started on a strong note for the Cougars, as CSU took two of the three doubles matches for the early advantage.

Twenty-second-ranked KP Pannu and Maciej Kierkus rolled past their opponents 8-3 at the top doubles spot, and Jorge Vargas and Shao-Yu Yu followed with an 8-5 win at the third spot.

Flagler (16-8) salvaged a point at second doubles as Matei Avram and Zach Whaanga fell 9-7.

CSU quickly got on the board in singles play with Pannu's opponent retiring early in the second set. The sophomore was up 6-1, 2-1 when the match was halted. The Saints answered back though, getting a straight-set win at second singles over Whaanga.

Mother Nature got involved midway through singles stopping play on two occasions, the second time for nearly an hour.

After the resumption, Flagler tied the match at three as Matei Avram dropped a 6-2, 6-4 decision at fourth singles.

Vargas pushed the Cougars back in front minutes later with a 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) win to bring CSU within one match of victory.

Yu comfortably won his first set 6-0 at the sixth spot, but dropped the second 6-3 to send the match to the third. After falling behind 5-0, Yu battled back to make it 5-3 but ultimately fell short sending all eyes to third singles.

In the third position, Paul Sprengelmeijer lost the first set 6-3 and was down 5-4 in the second. Staring at defeat, the freshman reeled off three straight games to storm back and force a decisive final set. The momentum continued for Sprengelmeijer as he won the first five games of the third before closing out the match at 6-1.

The upcoming Round of 16 appearance will be the fourth for the Cougars under Isaacs and their first since 2014.