By Brian Ramsey
OBU Sports Information
EDMOND, Oklahoma — The Ouachita Baptist University men’s tennis team beat Southern Arkansas 4-1 on Thursday in the finals of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association/Great American Conference Championship Tournament to secure its 23rd conference title in program history.
In the NCAA era (1994-present), the victory marks the sixth conference tournament championship and eighth overall conference crown. It is the first conference championship for the Tigers in the combined MIAA/GAC.
Thursday’s finals had to be moved indoors due to rain, but with several matches this season being played inside the friendly confines of the Ward Tennis Center, the Tigers felt right at home at the indoor facilities of the Edmond Center Court.
In doubles, No. 17 Ouachita (17-3) started off with a 6-3 third position win from Tobias Fuerschuss and Fernando Docters before No. 13 SAU (19-5) evened the match with a 6-3 win of its own in second position. Phil Exner and Alex Blanchar came through for the Tigers in first position with a 7-2 tiebreaker victory to give Ouachita the 1-0 match lead heading into singles.
After losing their doubles matchup, Francisco Oliveira and Santiago Kearney bounced back with singles wins in first and second positions, respectively. It was Docters’ win in third position singles that clinched the championship. Docters and SAU’s Marko Nikoliuk, ranked No. 22 nationally in singles, needed a tiebreaker in the third set to determine a winner.
Ouachita has now won seven consecutive matches, and Thursday’s win was the second over SAU this season.
The Tigers entered the tournament as the top-ranked team in the NCAA Division II Central Region. With the conference championship in hand, the Tigers should be in consideration to host a regional tournament, which would be played the weekend of May 7-8. The selection show is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. central time on NCAA.com.
1. No. 39 Exner & Blanchar (OUA) def. No. 10 Sander Jans & Nikoliuk (SAU) 7-6 (7-2)
2. Stuart Rehfuss & Sofianne Bah (SAU) def. No. 24 Oliveira & Kearney (OUA) 6-3
3. Fuerschuss & Docters (OUA) def. Ole Valkyser & Matthew Tennant (SAU) 6-3
1. No. 18 Oliveira (OUA) def. No. 74 Jans (SAU) 6-5, 6-2
2. No. 36 Kearney (OUA) def. No. 58 Rehfuss (SAU) 6-1, 0-6, 6-2
3. Docters (OUA) def. No. 22 Nikoliuk (SAU) 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-2)
4. Valkyser (SAU) def. Blanchar (OUA) 6-4, 7-5
5. Fuerschuss (OUA) vs. Yuri Gondouin (SAU) 5-7, 0-3 unfinished
6. Exner (OUA) vs. Bah (SAU) 6-4, 1-2 unfinished