Schledorn's Win Gives Blue Raiders Sun Belt Title

April 24, 2005 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Kai Schledorn won his match in a tiebreaker at No. 3, giving 29th-ranked Middle Tennessee a 4-3 victory over No. 44 Louisiana-Lafayette in the finals of the Sun Belt Championships Sunday in Mobile, Ala. The Blue Raiders earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Team Championships, the school's seventh postseason appearance.

Schledorn earned tournament MVP honors with the deciding victory over UL's Kerei Abakar, erasing a 5-6, 0-30 deficit in the third set before winning the tiebreaker, 7-3. The victory was Schledorn's first in singles in the tournament after his first two matches did not finish in Blue Raider victories.

"We really dug ourselves a whole by losing the doubles point, but this is just an incredible victory," head coach Dale Short said. "It was a total team effort. We've been so close in the past and it's just hard to believe that we won with all of the setbacks during the whole match."

Middle Tennessee started by dropping the doubles point, as the Ragin' Cajuns won at Nos. 2 and 3.

Abakar and Dusan Tabak defeated 22nd-ranked Brandon Allan and Schledorn, 8-5, at No. 2, and Robin Ley and Shaun Ellison won by the same score over Anant Sitaram and Greg Pollack.

The Blue Raiders won the first two completed singles matches, with Sitaram defeating Ley, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 5, and Allan winning 6-4, 7-6 (5), over 116th-ranked Tabak at No. 4.

"We got some unexpected victories from Brandon and Anant, and it was really a big lift for us," Short added.

UL's Amanjot Singh evened the match at two with a 7-6 (2), 7-5, victory over Marco Born at No. 2.

Middle Tennessee's Andreas Siljestrom, ranked 89th in singles, lost the first set but came back to defeat Evghenii Corduneanu, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.

The final two matches were see-saw affairs, with both in doubt until the final points.

UL's Ellison won the first marathon affair, defeating Pollack, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), erasing several match points by Pollack in the final set and tiebreaker.

That left everything to Schledorn and Abakar, with the Ragin' Cajun taking a 30-love advantage and up a break in the final set. But Schledorn came back to break and send the match into a tiebreaker, where the sophomore won seven of the 10 points to give the Blue Raiders a 4-3 victory.

The Sun Belt Championship is the first for Middle Tennessee in five years in the league and the first victory in the SBC Tournament final in three tries. It is also the first conference championship for the Blue Raiders since 2000. The win was the second this season in three tries again against UL, both on neutral courts.

The Blue Raiders will await the NCAA Team Championships scheduled for May 13-15.

#29 Middle Tennessee 4, #44 Louisiana-Lafayette

1. (89) Andreas Siljestrom (MT) def. Evghenii Corduneanu (UL), 4-6, 6-1, 6-1
2. Amanjot Singh (UL) def. Marco Born (MT), 7-6 (2), 7-5
3. Kai Schledorn (MT) def. Kerei Abakar (UL), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (3)
4. Brandon Allan (MT) def. Dusan Tabak (UL), 6-4, 7-6 (5)
5. Anant Sitaram (MT) def. Robin Ley (UL), 6-4, 6-4
6. Shaun Ellison (MT) def. Greg Pollack (MT), 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3)
Order of Finish: 5, 4, 2, 1, 6, 3

1. (51) Siljestrom-Born (MT) vs. (52) Corduneanu-Singh (UL), DNF
2. Abakar-Tabak (UL) def. (22) Allan-Schledorn (MT), 8-5
3. Ley-Ellison (UL) def. Sitaram-Pollack (MT), 8-5

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