Saint Leo wins thriller, 5-4, to advance to NCAA round of 16

Saint Leo wins thriller, 5-4, to advance to NCAA round of 16

SAINT LEO, Fla. – The amount of guts and heart in an athlete is revealed when they are put in the highest of pressure situations. On Monday afternoon, the Saint Leo men's tennis team showed what they were made of when they came from behind, down 4-2 in the match to the University of West Florida, to take home the NCAA South Regional 1 title and a trip to Denver to be a part of the final 16 teams in Division II with a 5-4 win on Guillaume Vanelven's, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, win at No. 5 singles.

The senior from Pourcieux, France opened with the first set win, and looked to be in command with a 4-1 lead in the second, but Sebastian Sanchez had something to say about it and took the match, 6-4. In the third set, Vanelven trailed 2-3, but was able to even the match up, and he never looked back, clinching the match for the Lions.

Vanelven's deciding point was set up by a thrilling win by No. 6 Elliot Carnello. Carnello fell in his first set, 4-6, before coming back to even the score with a 6-1 win. In the third and deciding point, with the Lions still down 4-2, Carnello trailed Pedro Roese, 3-4, but the freshman showed his heart. He came back with a vengeance, winning the third point for Saint Leo, 6-4, in the third set.

With the Lions down at 4-3, Jaime Bueno was another Lion who showed his grit. Bueno fell in his opening set, 6-3, before coming back to crusch his second set, 6-1. While a majority of the fan's surrounding courts five and six, watching the Vanelven and Carnello dramas unfolding, Bueno was dominant in his third set, winning 6-0 on an ace serve, giving Saint Leo the fourth point, and the 4-4 tie, setting up Vanelven's game-winner.

Alex Theiler gave the Lions their first singles point after dominating the No. 2 over Juan Pablo Boada, 6-1, 6-4.

Saint Leo trailed from the beginning after falling 2-1 in doubles play. Saint Leo's lone point came in a battle at No. 1 doubles as Alberto Barroso-Campos and Theiler ground out a 9-7 win.

West Florida gained their two singles point at No. 1 singles as Alex Peyrot upset Barroso-Campos, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, and their fourth overall point came at No. 3's as Kenny Brasil took down Egor Panyushkin, 6-1, 0-6, 6-1.

Saint Leo made history on Monday afternoon, as they earned their first-ever berth to the NCAA Championships round of 16.

For more information on the Saint Leo men's tennis program, visit SaintLeoLions.com.  Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.