#2 men's tennis looks to build off SSC title

#2 men's tennis looks to build off SSC title

SAINT LEO, Fla. – When you compete in a region where national championships are standard, winning a regular season conference championship may not seem that impressive. However, when you consider the fact that of the last 12 NCAA National Champions, nine have come from the South Region, and of those nine, four, including two of the last three, have come from the Sunshine State Conference, winning a SSC Regular Season Championship with an undefeated record is quite an accomplishment.

"We have some of the top teams in the country in our conference," Head Coach Chris Frusci stated of the level of play his team faces. "We are getting good competition day in and out, so I believe we are at an advantage in that sense. We know how to handle pressure and we know how to compete against good tennis. We also know that what we've done up until now is just step one towards the ultimate goal. Pretty soon 'it's win or go home' time which is an equalizer for everyone."

The No. 2 Saint Leo men's tennis team, who is 18-1 on the season, wrapped up SSC play this past week with wins over Florida Southern, 9-0, and Florida Tech, 8-1, to finish with a 6-0 record to earn an undisputed SSC Regular Season Championship. Not only is it the program's first regular season title, but it is Saint Leo's first-ever tennis title of any kind.

"This accomplishment for me is very special and very emotional," said senior Alex Theiler. "But at the same time we have not finished yet. This was our first achievement and we are happy and very excited for it because we are making history, but we are still far away from our main goal. I would like to say that this is something that helped us to see that we are doing the right thing - working hard is the key and it brings us results."

Over SSC play, the Lions earned their first-ever win over the reigning National Champions and currently No. 7 Barry University and their first-ever road win over No. 9 Lynn. In regional play, the Lions have topped No. 9 Valdosta State, No. 4 West Florida; nationally, Saint Leo has added wins over No. 12 Georgia College, No. 25 Flagler, No. 3 Armstrong State, No. 8 Concordia (N.Y.), No. 20 North Georgia, No. 12 Midwestern State, and No. 5 Lander. The Lions lone loss of the season came to then-No. 2 Hawaii Pacific, who is currently the nation's No. 1.

"We think that loss actually was a blessing in disguise," commented Frusci. "We were out two starters and played in adverse conditions. Even with these conditions, we felt that we were right there with them. It was great that we played them because our guys know what to expect. They definitely want to see them again."

 The Lions have accomplished many things this season, but each accomplishment is just a step in the direction to the ultimate goal.

"We all know what the final goal is," Theiler stated. "We are happy while we do well along each step, but we know that a season is not about how you start, it's about how you finish. All these extra motivations are good to keep us going in the right direction and hopefully at the end of the season we can celebrate something really big. But for now, I would like to say point by point."

Saint Leo has two regular season matches left, as they head to No. 6 Embry-Riddle on Tuesday, April 19 for a 4 p.m. match, and then they return home for Senior Day as they host Palm Beach Atlantic on Saturday, April 23 for a 1 p.m. match. The Lions then head to the SSC Tournament, which is hosted by the University of Tampa, over April 28-30.

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 FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.