FLORENCE, 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 have learned their first-round opponents for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Small College Championships. The four-day event will be held Oct. 15-18 at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala.
Last month the two FMU duos each won their respective A Flight championships at the ITA Southeast Regional Tournament in Sumter, S.C.
The Patriots will now compete against winners from the seven other NCAA Division II regions. The first two days 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 on Oct. 17-18.
Wijemanne and Sharifi are seeded second in the eight-team Division II men’s bracket. They will face Diego Gimenez and Joseph Boesing of the University of Southern Indiana on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
Both pairs won their regional titles in super-set tiebreaker fashion. Wijemanne and Sharifi advanced by way of a 9-8 (8-6) score in their regional final, while the USI pair captured the Midwest title by a 9-8 (7-3) tally.
Wijemanne and Sharifi ended the 2008-09 season ranked seventh nationally in Division II with a 16-3 mark, while Gimenez and Boesing were not ranked.
Sykorova and Baberadova are also seeded second in the Division II women’s bracket and will meet Kate Lowder and Victoria Sargent of Mesa State College on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
The Francis Marion duo beat a doubles squad from Armstrong Atlantic State University 9-7 in their regional final, while Lowder and Sargent, both juniors, become their program’s first-ever ITA regional champs by winning the Central Region title by an 8-4 score. Sykorova and Baberadova were ranked 14th at the end of last season with a 16-2 record, while the Mesa State pair were unranked.
Win or lose, the FMU women will play a second match on Thursday evening at 6 p.m., while the second match for Wijemanne and Sharifi will be on the Friday at 2:30 p.m. Both brackets have a winner’s and consolation draw so teams are guaranteed of playing three matches.
The only previous FMU men’s player to advance to the National Small College Championships was Kevin Taylor, who played in the 2005 singles draw. Lee Whitwell and Mary Hirst played in the women’s doubles bracket in both 1993 and 1994, and Whitwell played in the 1993 singles competition.