MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – With both teams earning selections for the NCAA South Region, the Saint Leo University men’s and women’s tennis programs will travel to Barry University to engage in postseason play on Saturday.
The No. 5-ranked men’s squad opens play against the No. 9 ranked Valdosta State University Blazers with a 9 a.m. matchup at the Buccaneers Tennis Complex on Saturday.
The Saint Leo men carry a 15-5 record entering the first round of the tournament, having reached the Sunshine State Conference semifinal match in its most recent contest. The Lions fell by a 5-2 final tally to Lynn University in the match.
The Green and Gold squad is led by junior Alex Theiler who enters the matchup with a 13-6 singles record. Most of Theiler’s success has been in the No. 1 spot in the Saint Leo lineup, boasting an 11-6 record as the top-court contender.
The Lions last reached postseason play in the 2013 season, having barely missed the cut in 2014. Then-sophomore Jacobo Gonzalez-Tarrio picked up a crucial win against Rollins College to advance the Lions by a 5-4 final tally to the South Region final. Saint Leo met familiar-foe Barry in the matchup, dropping a 5-0 contest to the Buccaneers in the 2013 regional matchup.
Valdosta State holds a 15-7 overall record at the start of tournament play, losing to West Florida in its most recent matchup by a 5-3 final score. The Blazers are led by Gereon Heitmann who has a 13-4 record in singles action from courts 2-4. Leo Blay is the top-contender, posting a 9-6 record in as the No. 1 in VSU’s lineup.
The winner of the top-10 matchup will face regional host Barry on Sunday at 9 a.m. with the victor advancing to the NCAA Division II Tennis Championships in Surprise, Ariz.
The No. 6 women’s team enters the tournament as the third-seeded program, set to face No. 6-seed Stillman College on Saturday at noon.
The Green and Gold carry an 18-5 record into the opening round of postseason play, reaching the Sunshine State Conference final for the third consecutive year.
The Lions advance to the semifinal round in the 2014 Championship, defeating Lynn University in the South Region tournament to advance to the round of 16 in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
This season the Green and Gold open play as the No. 3 seed, facing the Tigers of Stillman College who enter play with a 24-1 record.
Saint Leo will reach the tournament for the fourth consecutive year and fifth in the past eight seasons. Senior Maria Benkirane has played in the South Region Tournament in each year since joining the Lions and has an even 2-2 tally in singles action while a 5-2 record in doubles in postseason competition.
The Tigers are led by a 17-1 record from Estel Fernandez Balada, as the freshman has provided consistency in the Stillman lineup. Angela Corredor and Viktoria Izakova anchor the top-flight, combining for an 11-3 record in singles.
The winner of the contest will face regional host Barry with a trip to Surprise, Ariz. on the line.
Live stats for the pair of regional tournaments will be provided through www.saintleolions.com courtesy of Barry University.
For more information on the Saint Leo men’s and women's tennis programs, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.