CHARLESTON, S.C. - For the College of Charleston men's tennis team, this year's trip to the NCAA Tournament has been a special journey for fifth-year head coach Jay Bruner and seniors Mickael Trintignac (Le Cannet, France), Tom Delme (Hamoir, Belgium) and Chris Toussaint (Charlotte, N.C.).
When Bruner was promoted from assistant coach to head coach in 2007, he brought in his first recruits in former Southern Conference Player of the Year Lukas Koncilia and Mickael Boyer - and would later sign his second recruiting class with Trintignac and Delme joining the team in January of 2009 along with Toussaint, who is a CofC Honors College student graduating cum laude with a degree in biology and decided to forego May Commencement to root on his fellow teammates this weekend.
What has resulted for Bruner and the Cougars (18-4) is a school-record three consecutive Southern Conference regular-season championship titles and the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003, and second all-time. They punched their postseason ticket with a 4-0 victory over second-seeded Samford in the finals of the Southern Conference Tournament on April 23.
CofC gears up for its first-ever meeting with 15th-seeded and No. 15-ranked North Carolina (13-7) in first-round action to be held on Saturday, May 12 at noon (ET) at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. The winner will then meet either No. 17-ranked Tennessee (14-13) or UNC Wilmington (17-6) in the second round on Sunday, May 13 at 1 p.m. (ET).
Live scoring will be available at: http://www.tarheelblue.com/livestats/m-tennis/xlive.htm
"We have been practicing well the last 10 days and everyone is healthy and in great shape," said Bruner, who was named 2012 SoCon Men's Tennis Coach of the Year and leads his first squad to the NCAA Tournament. "We have enjoyed our last two days in Chapel Hill and the spirit of the regional. What a great atmosphere for college tennis. We are excited at the opportunity of playing a great team such as North Carolina at their place and will be ready to play tomorrow."
The Cougars will use the singles lineup of No. 1 Trintignac, No. 2 Delme, No. 3 Kyle Parker (Richmond, Va.), No. 4 Crescente Lesser (Santiago, Chile), No. 5 Alon Faiman (Ramat Hasharon, Israel) and No. 6 Billy Kenny (Pawley's Island, S.C.). They will also go with the doubles combinations of the No. 67-ranked and NCAA Doubles Championship-bound tandem of Trintignac and Parker at No. 1, Delme and Kenny at No. 2 and junior Stephen Hardy (Fairfax, Va.) and Faiman at No. 3.
CofC is no stranger to the regional site having played their ITA Fall Regional Championship the last four years at UNC. Delme played a close three-set match with the Tar Heels' No. 2 player Brennan Boyajian, while Parker is cousins with UNC junior William Parker.
The Cougars are 0-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches with a 4-0 first-round loss at ninth-seeded Ole Miss in 2003 and will look to make more history this weekend.