NCAA Men's Tennis: No. 1 Cougars Come Up Short in Title Match

NCAA Men's Tennis: No. 1 Cougars Come Up Short in Title Match

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – In a championship match for the ages, the top-ranked Columbus State University men's tennis team came up just shy of winning its second straight national championship falling 4-3 to second-ranked Barry Friday. The NCAA Division II National Championship match was held at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

The Cougars close out 2019 with a 28-3 record tying the program record for wins in a season.

"I'm gutted for our guys but I couldn't be prouder of the effort they gave in this final," said head coach Evan Isaacs. "We left it all out there on the courts this week, and even though we came up short it'll be an opportunity for us to learn from. I can't thank the community enough for their support, we're a tight-knit family here at Columbus State and we'll bounce back."

CSU came out of the gates strong winning two of the three doubles matches to grab the first point. After Barry captured third doubles, the Cougars responded immediately. In a top-10 showdown, the top-ranked pair of Alvaro Regalado and Zach Whaanga had an impressive showing in the first position against the seven-ranked duo of Pierre Montrieul and Blake Bayldon. Regalado and Whaanga notched a 6-4 win for the Cougars.

The swing match came down to KP Pannu and Tommaso Schold at the second position. After a slow start, Pannu and Schold came on late to capture the 6-4 win and to put Columbus State ahead 1-0 in the match.

The Cougars carried the momentum into singles play taking the first two completed matches to pull within one win of the title. Fourth singles finished up first as 25th-ranked Regalado cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over 33rd-ranked Alejandro Palacios. Schold was the next to wrap up as he raced to a 6-3, 6-1 win at six singles against 46th-ranked Daniel Ventura.

Barry (26-1) began inching back after earning points at first and second singles. Battling through sickness, top-ranked Pannu put up a valiant effort against seventh-ranked Montrieul at first singles, but suffered a 6-4, 6-4 defeat. At second singles, 34th-ranked Whaanga dropped his match 6-2, 6-3 to 28th-ranked Gallego.

The Buccaneers tied the overall score at three with a three-set victory at fifth singles. After dropping the first set, 54th-ranked Arnold Kokulewski forced the decisive third set, but ran out of gas falling 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

The championship was ultimately decided at third singles. In a back-and-forth match throughout, 66th-ranked Fabien Asdrubal came up just short to drop a 6-3, 4-6, 4-6 decision.