ROCK HILL, S.C. - The 34th-ranked Wingate University men's tennis team won its second Food Lion SAC Men's Tennis Championship crown in three years, taking a 5-3 championship match decision over Tusculum College Friday afternoon at the Rock Hill Tennis Center. Bulldog freshman Connor Kudrick (Spring, Texas) was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Wingate (18-7 overall) receives the league's automatic qualification to the NCAA Division II play-offs. The Bulldogs will participate in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regionals May 3-6 at a campus site to be determined. Tusculum (18-5 overall) will await word regarding an at-large bid to the NCAA dance.
Kudrick won the clinching match in Thursday's semi-final triumph over Queens University of Charlotte. On Friday, Kudrick ran his winning streak to 23 dual match victories with his 6-2, 7-6 (2) win over Pioneer freshman David Siegle (Ditzingen, Germany) in the number four singles match, setting the stage for sophomore teammate Sebastian Hall (Lörrach, Germany) to seal the deal. Hall avenged a regular season loss with his straight sets victory over TC sophomore Nicolas Planchard (Frisange, Luxembourg) at the number two flight.
Wingate junior Josh Eardley (Newcastle, England) gave the 'Dogs a 3-1 lead with his 6-1, 6-0 victory over TC junior Joseph Elphingstone (Calhoun, Ga.) at the number six singles flight. Pioneer freshman Leon Seiz (Ludwigsburg, Germany) cut the Tusculum deficit to 3-2 when he earned a 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Bulldog senior Ryan Forbes (Charlotte, N.C.) at the number five spot.
Tusculum evened the match at 3-3 when junior Lukas Winkelmann (Boblingen, Germany) collected a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Wingate junior Neal Towlson (Warwick, Bermuda) in the battle of the number one players. The 2014 SAC Player of the Year, Winkelmann (23-0 overall this season) is the 15th ranked player in the ultra-competitive NCAA Division II Southeast Region. Kudrick and Hall followed with wins to close out the match.
Doubles were a mirror image of the two teams' regular season meeting, as Wingate recorded victories at the number two and the number three flights. Kudrick and senior Ryan Forbes (Charlotte, N.C.) got things started with an 8-5 victory over Siegle and Elphingstone at the number two spot.
After the Lukas and Jonas Winkelmann tied the score with an 8-4 win at number one doubles, Pezzoli and freshman Tyler Schofer (Graham, N.C.) gave the Bulldogs the lead with an 8-4 triumph over Planchard and Seiz. Pezzoli and Schofer won both of their doubles matches in the Food Lion SAC tournament this week.