SUMTER, SC – The Francis Marion University men’s tennis doubles team of Oshada Wijemanne and Dilshod Sharifi and the women’s duo of Tereza Sykorova and Sabina Baberadova each won their respective A Flight championships at the recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Southeast Regional Tournament. The four-day event was held at the Palmetto Tennis Center in Sumter.
The four Patriots now advance, along with seven other NCAA Division II regional doubles winners, to the ITA National Small College Championships, Oct. 15-18 in Mobile, Ala.
This event will determine champions at NCAA Division II and III, NAIA, and Junior College/Community College levels. The four winners will then advance to a “Super Bowl” of small college tennis.
Wijemanne and Sharifi defeated a doubles team from Armstrong Atlantic State University 9-8 in a tiebreaker (8-6) to win the 2009 region crown. The two received a first-round bye and then won matches by scores of 8-5, 8-2, and 8-6 leading into the final match. Wijemanne and Sharifi ended the 2008-09 season ranked seventh nationally in Division II.
Sykorova and Baberadova also beat a doubles squad from AASU in their regional final 9-7. The defeated AASU pair was ranked first nationally in Division II last year, while Sykorova and Baberadova were ranked 14th. The FMU pair defeated last year’s No.5-ranked doubles team in the semifinal round. For the Patriot women, 8-4 was the closest score in their four matches leading up to the title contest.
Sykorova and Baberadova also reached the semifinal round of the women’s singles A flight.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment for these four players, and for the Patriot tennis program,” said long-time FMU head coach Garth Thomson. “I am very proud of these student-athletes and look forward to seeing what they can now do at the national championships. Hopefully these wins will also ignite a great spring season for both programs.”
The only previous FMU men’s player to win an ITA regional title was Kevin Taylor, who won the singles championship in 2005. Lee Whitwell and Mary Hirst won women’s doubles regional championships in 1993 and 1994, and Whitwell won a regional singles title in 1993.