BANNER ELK, N.C. - The No. 25 ranked Lees-McRae College men's tennis team received their bid to the NCAA Men's Tennis National Tournament Wednesday night. The Bobcats will travel to Savannah, Ga. and play in one of two Southeast Regional Tournaments.
The Bobcats will open against a familiar opponent, the No. 24 ranked Anderson University Trojans, on May 6th at 10 a.m. for their first round match. With a win, Lees-McRae would advance to play host Armstrong Atlantic. In the other side of the bracket, Limestone and Flagler play the first round match with Francis Marion awaiting the winner.
The Bobcats clinched their berth in the NCAA Tournament by winning the 2010 Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship. Seniors, Marko Zivkovic, who was named tournament MVP, and Shaun Sumner, who earned All-Tournament Team, went undefeated in the tournament to lead the Bobcats. Lees-McRae defeated this year's first round NCAA opponent Anderson 5-4 in finals to earn the berth.
Lees-McRae has gone 22-1 in the past two seasons in conference matches with the team's lone loss conference came in 2009 against the Trojans in the conference tournament finals in a 5-1 decision. In the 2009, regular season the Bobcats defeated the Trojans 5-4 in Banner Elk, and in the 2010 regular season Lees-McRae handed Anderson a 7-2 loss at Anderson.
In the 2010, the Bobcats were led by their number one singles player, Nandor Solymosi who was 11-4 overall and 6-1 in the conference. Solymosi was honored with First Team All-Conference Carolinas for his efforts during the season. Shaun Sumner took home Second Team All-Conference honors for his 10-5 overall record and 7-0 conference record at number two singles, and Travis VanHoy earned third team at number three singles with a 6-8 overall record and a 3-3 conference record. Zivkovic went 10-5 overall and 7-0 in the conference at number four singles and went undefeated in the tournament earning Tournament MVP. Steve Karendal, who earned All-Tournament Team, went 10-4 in the regular season and 7-0 in the conference for the Bobcats at number five singles. Sumner and Zivkovic went 7-0 in doubles in the conference this season and 10-5 and 6-4 respectively overall.
The match up May 6th, will mark the fourth fifth time in two years the two teams have meet on the tennis courts. The rivalry goes back much further as the two programs have battle for the Conference Carolinas and former Carolinas Virginia Athletics Conference titles dating back to 1996.
Lees-McRae has won the conference regular season crown four times with their first title coming in 1998. The Bobcats followed with three straight titles in 1999, 2000 and 2001. The Bobcats added their final regular season title a season ago in 2009, snapping Anderson's three-year streak, to make their total four titles.
Since 2001, Anderson, who didn't enter the league until 1999, has dominated the regular season crown winning their first title in 2002. They followed with wins in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Combined the two teams have won 10 of the conference's 13 regular season men's tennis titles.
In 2009, the Bobcats made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They defeated Limestone 5-3 in round one, but fell 5-1 to Georgia College and State University.
Awaiting the Bobcats in round two is No. 1 ranked Armstrong Atlantic State, who gave the Bobcats a 9-0 loss back on April 5th.