by Tyler Peck, sports
information graduate assistant
AUGUSTA, Ga. - The Peach Belt Conference (PBC) released the bracket for the Men's 2009 PBC Tennis Tournament which starts Friday, April 17 at the Clayton County Tennis Center in Jonesboro, Ga. The tourney is hosted by Clayton State University with all nine PBC teams competing for the conference championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The PBC tournament will be one of the premier Division II men's events in the nation with seven of the league's nine teams ranked in the latest ITA national poll, by far the most from any single conference. PBC singles players also account for more than 25% of the top 50 ranked players in the country.
Georgia College & State University is the No. 1 seed for the tourney. The Bobcats captured their first-ever PBC Regular Season Championship with a 7-0 conference record, going unbeaten in conference play for the first time. The season included upending last year's national champions, Armstrong Atlantic State University. Armstrong Atlantic entered Feb. 24, 2009 as the No. 1 team in the country, but the Bobcats were able to take them down 5-4 when Max Beliankou (Minsk, Belarus) defeated Tim Johannsen in a grueling match that went three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5. The victory also ended Armstrong's 38-match win streak and gave the Pirates their first regular season PBC loss since 2005.
Three matches will be played on Friday, April 17 all at 2 p.m. The No. 8 seed, North Georgia, will play against No. 9 Georgia Southwestern. Lander University, the No. 6 seed, goes up against the No. 3 seed, Columbus State University. The last matchup pits No. 7 Augusta State University versus No. 2 Armstrong Atlantic State University.
Saturday, April 18 No. 4 USC Aiken faces off against No. 5 Francis Marion University at 8 a.m. No. 1 Georgia College will play the winner of the 8/9 matchup. Then the two winners of the 3/6 match and 2/7 game will face each other.
The champion will be determined Sunday, April 19 at noon.
No. 6 Georgia College went 14-2 on the 2009 spring campaign with a 7-0 record in the conference. The Bobcats are led by a trio of seniors ranked nationally and regionally in singles with one doubles team ranked in the region.
Erick Siqueira (Sao Paulo, Brazil) was the 2008 PBC Player of the Year and is ranked No. 8 in the nation while Justin Pickham (Armidale, Australia) is 15th and Francis Yoshimoto (Sao Paulo, Brazil) is 24th. The doubles team of Pickham and Siqueira is ranked No. 2 nationally, the highest of any PBC team.
In the Southeast Regional ranking, Siqueira is fourth. Pickham is ranked at No. 6 and Yoshimoto is at the No. 12 slot. The duo of Pickham and Siqueira sits atop the doubles list at No. 1 in the region.
Siqueira was 11-4 at the first singles position for the Bobcats. Siqeira and doubles partner, Pickham were 13-1 as team this past spring. Pickham was 11-3 in singles action at the number two.
Yoshimoto who mainly played the number three for the ‘Cats was 13-3 on the season, including a 10-match winning streak.
Beliankou was 12-4 in singles action and was the regular number four for Georgia College.
Joao Casagrade (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Giovane Nucci (Santa Catarina, Brazil) and Leo Bernardes (Sao Paulo, Brazil) all shared time at the fifth and sixth singles slot. Casagrande was 4-6 which included 1-0 at the fifth spot. Nucci was 6-3 with 4-2 mark at fifth singles. Bernardes was 6-5 including a 2-0 record at six singles.
Casagrande teamed with Yoshimoto at second doubles for a 7-6 record. Beliankou and Nucci teamed at third doubles for the majority of the season for an 8-2 mark.
The Bobcats defeated the Hurricanes of Georgia Southwestern 9-0 in the first match of the season. Georgia College beat the North Georgia Saints 7-2 April 9.
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