ROCK HILL, S.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - No. 2 seed Radford rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat No. 1 seed Winthrop, 4-3, and win the 2011 Big South Men's Tennis Championship Saturday afternoon at the Winthrop Memorial Tennis Courts on the campus of Winthrop University. With the victory, Radford (22-3) claims the Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tennis Championship and captures its fourth men's tennis crown in five seasons.
Radford clinched the doubles point to open the match with a 1-0 advantage. The Highlanders won the first doubles contest at No. 2, as Stijn Meulemans and Igor Ogrizek defeated Guy Kubi and Nadav Ruppin, 8-5. The duo was up 4-1 and 6-2 before Winthrop's tandem cut the lead to 6-5, only to see Meulemans and Ogrizek pull out the victory. Radford clinched the point at No. 1 doubles on an 8-6 win by Ivan Salec and Thomas Dehaen over Sergey Belov and Liran Levy. The Highlanders were also leading the No. 3 doubles match, 6-5, at the time of the clinching set.
Winthrop quickly erased the deficit with three straight-set singles victories to go ahead 3-1. The Eagles' Liran Levy defeated Joe Mills, 6-3, 6-1 in No. 3 singles to tie the match at 1-1, and Guy Kubi downed Igor Ogrizek at No. 4, 6-2, 6-2, to put Winthrop ahead for the first time. Winthrop's Sergey Belov extended the Eagles' advantage to 3-1 with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Ivan Salec at No. 1 singles.
But the Highlanders rallied with straight-set victories at No. 2 and No. 6 singles to even the match. Nick Sayer pulled Radford to within one with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Dejon Bivens at No. 2, and Thomas Dehaen followed with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Yuta Hirokawa at No. 6.
The No. 5 singles match was the deciding point, and Radford's Stijn Meulemans posted a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Nadav Ruppin for the Big South Championship.
It was the sixth consecutive men's tennis title match between the two teams, with Radford moving to 4-2 against the Eagles in the Championship contest. It also was the second consecutive final to go 4-3 and the fifth overall. Radford won its 18th consecutive match overall to set a school-record for most wins in a season. The Highlanders also ended Winthrop's 15-match win streak.
The opening round of the 2011 NCAA Tennis Championship will be held May 13 and 14 at regional sites, with selections and match-ups to be announced May 3 on ESPNU.
No. 1: Ivan Salec/Thomas Dehaen (RU) def. Sergey Belov/Liran Levy (WU) 8-6
No. 2: Stijn Meulemans/Igor Ogrizek (RU) def. Guy Kubi/Nadav Ruppin (WU) 8-5
No. 3: Nick Sayer/Joe Mills (RU) vs. Dejon Bivens/Yuta Hirokawa (WU) 6-5 unfinished
No. 1: Sergey Belov (WU) def. Ivan Salec (RU) 6-4, 6-4
No. 2: Nick Sayer (RU) def. Dejon Bivens (WU) 6-4, 6-4
No. 3: Liran Levy (WU) def. Joe Mills (RU) 6-3, 6-1
No. 4: Guy Kubi (WU) def. Igor Ogrizek (RU) 6-2, 6-2
No. 5: Stijn Meulemans (RU) def. Nadav Ruppin (WU) 6-2, 7-5
No. 6: Thomas Dehaen (RU) def. Yuta Hirokawa (WU) 6-4, 6-2