Saint Leo, Fla. – With the match tied 4-4, all eyes turned to Court 1 on Tuesday as two of the top singles players in the country battled it out to clinch the NCAA South Region II Championship for their school. Jean-Baptiste Mateo pulled through for the fifth-ranked Fighting Knights, giving Lynn a 5-4 upset victory over second-ranked Saint Leo and a ticket to the NCAA National Championships in Surprise, Ariz.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Final: Lynn 5, Saint Leo 4
Records: #5 Lynn (17-6), #2 Saint Leo (22-2)
Location: Saint Leo Tennis Center | Saint Leo, Fla.
All-Time Series: Lynn leads 32-5
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The Fighting Knights scored first with an 8-2 win at No. 3 doubles from Tristan Houle and Gabriel Hocevar, but the Lions fired back with wins at No. 1 (8-4) and No. 2 (8-6).
- The bottom half of Lynn's singles lineup came out on fire, rattling off three quick victories to turn the tides and put the Blue and White out in front, 4-2.
- Houle (6-2, 6-1) and Hocevar (6-3, 6-0) each logged their second wins of the day at the fourth and fifth singles flights, respectively, with Jose Porfirio Ordonez taking the No. 6 matchup, 6-4, 6-2.
- The advantage didn't last long as Saint Leo's duo of nationally-ranked players at the two and three positions answered with straight-set triumphs.
- The match came down to No. 1 singles, where 11th-ranked Mateo went head-to-head with the No. 1 player in the country, Thomas Grinberg. After a clutch tiebreaker victory in the opening frame, Mateo closed out his opponent and triumphantly clinched the match for the Fighting Knights (7-6 (8-6), 6-4).
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:
- Lynn earned the No. 3 seed in the South Region with Saint Leo serving as the host of the South Region #2 bracket as the No. 2 seed. Top-seeded Barry hosted and won the South Region #1 bracket.
- The Blue and White have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 16 consecutive seasons, but are heading to nationals for the first time since 2012 and eighth time overall.
- The Fighting Knights won the national championship in 2007.
- Lynn also ended Saint Leo's season last year but in the South Regional semifinals.
- Grinberg was named the 2018 Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year. He held a 21-0 record in singles play this season entering today's match and had not lost in 31 straight matches dating back to last season. He has been ranked No. 1 in Division II by the ITA the majority of the season.
- After winning their first 21 matches of the season, the Lions have now lost two of their last three, including an upset in last weekend's SSC Championship final vs. Barry.
Lynn will head to Surprise, Ariz., for the NCAA National Championship on May 9-12.