FLORENCE, SC – Both the nationally ranked Francis Marion University men’s and women’s tennis teams will travel to Augusta, Ga., on Friday (April 15) for the 2011 Peach Belt Conference Tournaments, which are being hosted by Augusta State University at the Newman Tennis Center.
The winner of each single-elimination event will capture the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament, while other squads are vying for at-large invitations.
The tournaments will begin with one men’s match and one women’s match on Friday at noon, with other quarterfinal matches to follow on Friday afternoon and evening. The semifinals will be Saturday afternoon, with both championship matches set for Sunday (women at 10 a.m. and men at 1 p.m.).
Only the top eight teams in the PBC standings advanced to the tournament. Both FMU squads are ranked 14th nationally with the men seeded fifth and the women seventh for this week’s event.
The Francis Marion women (11-6) will meet second-seeded Columbus State University (14-4) on Friday at 2 p.m., while the 10-6 Patriot men will play the fourth-seeded CSU men (14-3), later on Friday at 5 p.m.
The PBC men’s tournament will be one of the premier Division II events in the nation with all eight squads ranked among the Top 30 in the latest ITA national poll. Peach Belt players also account for 22% of the top 50 ranked singles players in the country.
Second-ranked and six-time defending tournament champion Armstrong Atlantic State University is the No.1 seed for the men’s tournament.
The Patriot men are led by the nation’s eighth-ranked singles player, Oshada Wijemanne (10-4). His 55 career singles wins ranks second on the all-time Patriot list. Sophomore Alex Caspari and senior Karl Rogers form the team’s top doubles duo and they are ranked 18th nationally with a 10-5 season mark.
All of FMU’s losses have been to nationally ranked opponets.
Like the men, the PBC women’s tournament will be one of the top Division II women’s events in the nation with seven of the eight teams being nationally ranked and Peach Belt singles players accounting for 24% of the top 50 ranked players in the country.
AASU will again be the No.1 seed for the women’s draw. The Lady Pirates have won 86 straight regular-season conference matches dating back to 2003 and are the three-time defending Division II national champions.
The Francis Marion women are paced by junior Jitka Gavdunova, who is ranked 16th nationally with a 15-1 singles record, and sophomore Mona Blauen, who is ranked 44th with a 13-2 mark. The two also form the ninth-ranked doubles team in Division II, owning a 12-3 record.
Neither FMU tennis team has ever won a PBC Tournament championship. The Patriot men lost in the 2001 title match, and the women have reached the championship match twice in the past three seasons.
Results can be found on the tournament website at http://www.jaguarsroar.com/information/2011pbctennis/index
2011 Peach Belt Conference Men's and Women’s Tennis Tournaments in Augusta, Ga.
Friday, April 15
12 pm Match 1: (Women) #1 Armstrong Atlantic vs. #8 Lander
Match 2: (Men) #1 Armstrong Atlantic vs. #8 USC Aiken
2 pm Match 3: (Women) #4 Clayton State vs. #5 Georgia College
Match 4: (Women) #3 Flagler vs. #6 Augusta State
Match 5: (Women) #2 Columbus State vs. #7 Francis Marion
5 pm Match 6: (Men) #4 Columbus State vs. #5 Francis Marion
Match 7: (Men) #3 Flagler vs. #6 Georgia College
Match 8: (Men) #2 Lander vs. #7 Augusta State
Saturday, April 16
1 pm Match 9: Women's Match 1 Winner vs. Women's Match 3 Winner
Match 10: Women's Match 4 Winner vs. Women's Match 5 Winner
5 pm Match 11: Men's Match 2 Winner vs. Men's Match 6 Winner
Match 12: Men's Match 7 Winner vs. Men's Match 8 Winner
Sunday, April 17
10 am Match 13: Women's Championship Match
1 pm Match 14: Men's Championship Match