Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's tennis team moved into the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the first time in 12 years as the Bulldogs pulled out a thrilling 5-4 victory over nationally 17th-ranked Concordia (N.Y.) in the round of 16 on Wednesday (May 18) at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver, Colo.
The Bulldogs fought back from an early deficit to shock Concordia and will next face Midwestern State (Texas) in the final eight of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday (May 19) starting at 2 p.m. (ET) in the Mile High City.
Concordia captured two of the three doubles flights to grab the early advantage against the Bulldogs as FSU's lone win in doubles play came at the number one flight.
However, Ferris State battled back in the singles round with wins at four of the six positions, including a match-clinching three-set triumph from senior Simon Levy at the number six flight. FSU also pulled out wins at two, three and four singles en route to the comeback triumph.
FSU was making its first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2005 while Concordia was in the Round of 16 for the 12th consecutive year.
The Bulldogs previously punched their ticket to Denver by capturing one of two Midwest Regional bracket titles with a thrilling 5-3 victory over West Michigan rival Grand Valley State last Tuesday (May 10) at the FSU Racquet and Fitness Center in Big Rapids.
Concordia, the East Regional Champion, entered the contest ranked 17th in the nation while the Bulldogs were 35th in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division II National Rankings. The Clippers concluded the year at 13-5 overall this year with FSU improving to 24-4 overall this campaign.
The winner of Thursday's Elite Eight matchup will advance to the national semifinals on Friday with the national championship match set for Saturday in Denver.
Ferris State, which is making its 20th all-time NCAA Tournament bid, was taking part in the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in school history, but the first time since 2005. FSU had not advanced to the Elite Eight since 2004 when FSU beat Kutztown (Pa.) 5-2 in the round of 16 in the first-ever Division II Festival. The Bulldogs' highest finish in school history was a fifth-place national showing in 1988.
With Wednesday's win, FSU's 24 wins to date this year are now a new school single-season record, surpassing the 23 wins posted during the 1999 campaign. In addition, Levy's 31 singles victories are now tied with former standout Paul Marcum's individual single-season record of 31 wins in 1990-91.
Along with capturing the Midwest Regional crown, Ferris State also won the GLIAC's outright regular-season title this season for the second-straight year. The 2016 campaign represented the first-time ever in which FSU had won both the GLIAC Regular-Season & Tournament Championships in the same year since the tournament moved to its current dual team format.
This year also marks the first time in which Ferris State claimed the GLIAC Tournament Championship since 2012. It was also only the second league postseason crown in the last 16 years as the 2012 crown was FSU's first since 1999.
With this year's championships, the men's tennis squad became the fifth FSU team to win a conference title this season, joining football, volleyball, men's basketball and hockey teams. The squad is also the fourth of the group to repeat as back-to-back champions this year in the regular-season and the fourth to claim a league postseason tournament crown.
The 2016 Division II National Championships Festival marks the ninth occurrence of the distinctive Division II event, and is being hosted by Metro State University-Denver and the Denver Sports Commission this week. A total of 76 qualifying teams and 20 qualifying individuals are representing their institutions by competing for national championships in men's and women's golf, women's lacrosse, softball, and men's and women's tennis.
Division II is the only NCAA division that conducts "National Championships Festivals," an Olympic-style event in which a number of national championships are held at a single site over several days.
The goals of the festival are to enhance the student-athlete experience, create more awareness and exposure for Division II sports, and increase attendance by hosting multiple championships in one location. Each festival features opening and closing ceremonies, social opportunities for student-athletes, and community-outreach events. Student-athletes are housed in centrally located hotels, allowing for an athlete-village atmosphere.
Below are the complete match results:
#35 Ferris State 5, #17 Concordia (N.Y.) 4
1. #38 Jui Mao (CND-NY-M) def. Vasil Surduk (FS) 7-5, 4-6, 6-4
2. Till von Winning (FS) def. Lorenzo Montegiorgi (CND-NY-M) 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (11-9)
3. Nur Adim Ramdani I. (FS) def. Luca Corigliano (CND-NY-M) 6-3, 6-1
4. Steward Sell (FS) def. Rafael Ferreira (CND-NY-M) 6-2, 6-4
5. A. Evangelisti (CND-NY-M) def. Daniil Tarantinov (FS) 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7)
6. Simon Levy (FS) def. Ofir Ginat (CND-NY-M) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2
1. Vasil Surduk/Nur Adim Ramdani I. (FS) def. #15 Ofir Ginat/Jui Mao (CND-NY-M) 8-6
2. A. Evangelisti/Rafael Ferreira (CND-NY-M) def. Till von Winning/Daniil Tarantinov (FS) 9-7
3. Luca Corigliano/Lorenzo Montegiorgi (CND-NY-M) def. Alex Brown/Steward Sell (FS) 9-8 (7-1)