LAKELAND - Florida Southern Men's Tennis team began play here Thursday at the USTA/ITA South Regional Championships at the Wynee Warden Tennis Center by advancing two of its singles players into the round of 16 and its top doubles team move into Friday's quarterfinals after the first day of action.
The Moccasins, who are hosting both the men's and women's South Regionals this year, had four players competing for the men as all of the teams (men and women) were limited to just four entries per team per gender. The four men's competitors for the Mocs in the tournament junior Benoit Paradis (Quebec City, Quebec), sophomore Emanuel Luber (Tiengen, Germany), junior Nathan Leavitt (Bradenton, Fla.) and junior Jorge Gutierrez (Madrid, Spain). Paradis is seeded No. 9 in the singles draw, while Paradis and Luber are seeded fifth in doubles.
Thursday's action began with doubles as Paradis and Luber had a first round by and earned an 8-3 win over Florida Tech's tandem of Matic Leskovar and Patrick Hernandez in the round of 16, while Leavitt and Gutierrez opened the tournament with a 9-8 (10-8) loss to Rollins' Adrian di Felica and Malte Christesen in the round of 32.
Following the two rounds of doubles play, the teams played two rounds of singles beginning with 32 first round matches. In the first round, Leavitt opened with a hard-fought three-set win over Saint Leo's Ismail Lemtouni (4-6, 6-3, 6-1), while Luber picked up a straight set win over Alabama-Huntsville's Rapheal Oliveria (6-4, 6-3). The Mocs had four players compete in the second round as Paradis picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win over West Alabama's Luis Ruiz, while Luber upset ninth-seeded Christesen in straight sets (6-3, 7-5). The Mocs appeared on their way to earning three singles wins in the second round, but Leavitt, who won the first set, 7-6, was forced to retire due to severe cramping trailing 5-4 in the second set to Alabama-Huntsville's No. 9 seeded Jonathan Kano and Gutierrez fell in straight sets to No. 3 seeded Bruno Savi of West Florida (6-2, 6-1).
"I was really pleased with the way our guys played today in very tough conditions," Mocs coach Trey Heath said. "I couldn't be more proud of the way Nathan gutted it out his second round match battling severe cramping. That was just a tremendous match."
Friday's second day of action features two Mocs in the winners bracket of both singles and doubles as Paradis will face Saint Leo's Matt Nicholson-Lewis and Luber will meet No. 4 seeded Will Wolfer of Lynn in the round of 16, while Gutierrez will face Eckerd's Ben Levy in the second round of the singles consolation bracket.
Meanwhile, in doubles play, Luber and Paradis will face West Florida's No. 3 seeded tandem of Kevin Durcos and Tony Rajaobelina at 8:30 a.m. in one of four doubles quarterfinals. Gutierrez and Leavitt are scheduled to face West Alabama's Adam Drysdale and Anton Ivanov in one of four consolation flight matches. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday and the finals will be played on Sunday.
On Friday, the women's teams will move over to FSC's Wynee Warden Tennis Center and the men will move to the Beermann Family Tennis Center. All of the men's and women's matches will be held at the Wynee Warden Complex on both Saturday and Sunday.
The singles and doubles champions of the South Regional Championship will advance to the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships on Oct. 11-14 at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala. The USTA/ITA National Small College Championships are comprised of the eight regional champions (and/or at-large selections) from NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community Colleges.
Complete USTA/ITA South Regional Women's and Men's Draw