FINALLY! Men's Tennis Wins National Championship

FINALLY! Men's Tennis Wins National Championship
Senior Andrew Sharnov clinched the National Championship match by winning a third-set tiebreaker. Photo by Lance Thomas.

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla.—Despite falling behind 4-2 in the NCAA DII National Championship match, the Barry men’s tennis team won four of the six singles matches to capture the all-elusive national championship 5-4 over the #1 Valdosta State Blazers. This group of Bucs, who finished runner up in 2008 and 2009, finally won the title on their third try.

Valdosta (23-2) needed only one point with two singles matches on the court to take the title. The two remaining matches were number three singles with #32 Emanuel Fraitzl against #19 Christian Hansen and Andrew Sharnov against Konstantin Kutschenko. Fraitzl fell behind 4-0 in the third set and Sharnov fell back 4-1. The Bucs persevered and took both matches and the national championship.

The amazing Buccaneer comeback started with number six singles. Velez found himself in an early hole as he dropped his first set 6-0 to Kuech. The junior came back in set number two and took a 6-2 win. In the third set, with his team’s back against the wall, and falling behind a break at 4-3, Velez did not give up another game and put the Buccaneers back into the match with a 6-4 win in the third set. Barry still trailed 4-3 with Fraitzl and Sharnov still on the court.

At the end of Velez’s match, Fraitzl fell behind 4-0 in set number three and Sharnov found himself in a 4-1 hole in the third set. With both their opponents battling cramps, Fraitzl won the next six games and tied the overall match at 4-4.

Sharnov won the next four games in his match and had two match points with a 5-4 lead in the set but could not capitalize on either. The senior lost that game and the next to fall back 6-5 against Kutschenko. Sharnov tied the match at 6-6 and the national title came down to a tie-break.

Sharnov took the first point of the tie-break then Kutschenko answered to tie things up. Sharnov rolled off the next five points, giving him four match point opportunities for a win. After Kutschenko narrowed the lead to 6-4, Sharnov landed a baseline forehand winner to capture the NCAA DII Men’s Tennis National Championship.

To set up the miracle finish, Barry fell behind 2-1 after doubles at the beginning of the match. Emanuel Fraitzl and Marco Mokrzycki went down 4-1 but fought back to trail just 7-6. Valdosta's #19 team of Daniel Dueren and Christian Hansen took the match at 8-6, earning the Blazers their first point of the overall match with the win at number two doubles.

In the third flight of doubles, Sergio Velez and Andrew Sharnov went up 7-2 and looked to capture an early first point for the Bucs. The Valdosta pair of Otto Lenhart and Frank Sickman came back to the cut the Buccaneer lead in the set to 7-6. However, the Sharnov-Velez duo finished with an 8-6 win and tied the match at 1-1.

With the match tied, the number one doubles went down to the wire in a tie breaker. Barry had match point with the tie breaker at 6-5 and Valdosta serving. The nation's top doubles team of Philip Pakebusch and Michael Kuech took the point on an ace by Kuech. Valdosta eventually grabbed the match on a well-placed lob over both Buccaneers to defeat Barry's top doubles team of Max Wimmer and Ales Svigelj.

In singles, Valdosta took four first sets and looked composed to take the championship. At number two singles, #36 Svigelj fell 6-2, 6-1 to #5 Daniel Dueren with the Blazers collecting a commanding 3-1 lead in the overall match.

The Buccaneers needed a lift with Valdosta only two singles wins away from the championship. Wimmer, ranked #42, delivered the Bucs only two-set win of the day. Wimmer went 6-4 in set one over the Blazer’s Lenhart then blanked Lenhart in the second set to take the match. Barry still trailed by one at 3-2 in the overall match, however.

Freshman Mokrzycki faced the challenge of taking on the #3 player in the nation, fellow German, Pakebusch. The top Barry player suffered a 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) loss. The win for Valdosta put the Blazers a mere one point away from the national title with three matches still on the court and paved the way for the Bucs' magical finish. 

Barry finished the season on a 12-match win streak and an overall record of 25-4. This is Barry's eighth NCAA National Championship and first for men's tennis. The Blazers' only two losses of the season came at the hands of the Bucs.

Tennis Match Results
Valdosta State vs Barry
05/15/10 at Altamonte Springs, Fla.
(Sanlando Park)

Barry 5, Valdosta State 4

Singles competition
1. #3 Philip Pakebusch (VSUM) def. #16 Marco Mokrzycki (BUM) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)
2. #5 Daniel Dueren (VSUM) def. #36 Ales Svigelj (BUM) 6-2, 6-1
3. #32 Emanuel Fraitzl (BUM) def. #19 Christian Hansen (VSUM) 5-7, 6-2, 6-4
4. #42 Max Wimmer (BUM) def. Otto Lenhart (VSUM) 6-4, 6-0
5. Andrew Sharnov (BUM) def. K. Kutschenko (VSUM) 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4)
6. Sergio Velez (BUM) def. Michael Kuech (VSUM) 0-6, 6-2, 6-4

Doubles competition
1. #1 Philip Pakebusch/Michael Kuech (VSUM) def. #10 Ales Svigelj/Max Wimmer (BUM) 9-8 (10-8)
2. Daniel Dueren/Christian Hansen (VSUM) def. Emanuel Fraitzl/Marco Mokrzycki (BUM) 8-6
3. Andrew Sharnov/Sergio Velez (BUM) def. Otto Lenhart/Frank Sickman (VSUM) 8-6

Match Notes:
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (2,4,1,6,3,5)
2010 NCAA Division II Men's Championship
Championship Match
Match 15
Barry University Wins 2010 National Championship