May 13, 2009

#7 Bobcats Edge #20 Abilene Christian in 5-3 Thriller, Advance to Elite Eight

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ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - It came down to the last couple of team points and when Max Beliankou (Minsk, Belarus) finished off a three-set win, the No. 7 Georgia College & State University men's tennis team (18-3) beat No. 20 Abilene Christian University (26-8) punching a ticket in the Elite Eight of the 2009 NCAA Division II Men's Tennis Championships.

The deciding match came at fourth singles, where Beliankou battled back from a 6-2 loss in the opening set to Luke Hawk, finishing him off with a pair of 6-3s for the fifth team point. Beliankou is now 15-4 in singles action.

The Bobcats set the tone with a 2-1 lead after doubles. The No. 2 pairing of Erick Siqueira (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Justin Pickham (Armidale, Australia) made quick work of Hawk and Ryan Hudson 8-3.

Beliankou and freshman Robert Angelucci (Acworth, Ga.) continue to impress at third doubles, getting an 8-5 win over Eldad Campbell and Hutton Jones, Jr. The GCSU pairing just joined up for the NCAA Southeast Regional in Milledgeville, Ga., and has now won their last two.

The Sao Paulo duo of Francis Yoshimoto and Joao Casagrande lost 8-5 to Bryan Joiner and Juan Nunez.

In singles action, the first finish came in the fifth slot, when Leo Bernardez (Sao Paulo, Brazil) fell to Joiner 6-3 then retired in the second set down 3-0. No. 15 Pickham also lost to Campbell 6-1, 6-0 in the second spot and the Bobcats were down 3-2.

No. 8 Siqueira then clobbered No. 49 Nunez 6-3, 6-2 at first singles to make the match 3-3. No. 25 Yoshimoto pulled off the first of two come-from-behind victories at third singles, responding after a 6-4 loss for 6-0 and 6-4 wins and a 4-3 team advantage, setting up Beliankou for the win. Yoshimoto leads the team at 18-3 on the year, and Siqueira improves to 14-5.

The 18 victories by the Bobcats this season ties the 2005 squad for second-most in program history. The three losses are the fewest since the 1987 squad went 12-2.

The Bobcats move on to face No. 2 Barry University (25-2) tomorrow, May 14 at 9 a.m. The Buccaneers beat No. 28 BYU-Hawaii 5-0 today.

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