Flagler tennis teams see storybook seasons end in Final Four, Elite Eight

·2 min read
Flagler men's tennis finished in the Final Four of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Flagler men's tennis finished in the Final Four of the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Every team's dream is to make it to nationals and hoist the trophy.

Sixth-ranked Flagler College did that, making it to the NCAA Division II Men's Tennis National Championships and advancing to the national semifinals Saturday morning at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.

It was a stage the program had never witnessed before as Flagler took first-time appearances in the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four — to pair with its first Peach Belt Conference regular-season title and hosting rights of the southeast regional — to put the Saints on the map.

The ending wasn't what the Saints wanted — a 4-0 loss to No. 2 Barry University — but it laid the foundation for first-year head coach Jonas Piibor as he led his first Flagler team to five first-time feats behind a 20-6 overall record.

"Right now, it's an empty feeling as we never wanted the season to end," Piibor said. "Credit to Barry for stepping it up against us today. I couldn't ask anymore from the team as we have battled through each and every day since the start last fall.

"They have put it on the line every single day and they can be proud of everything they have accomplished."

Flagler women's tennis finished in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Flagler women's tennis finished in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II playoffs.

So can the Flagler women.

The No. 11 Saints team closed the chapter of its most successful season and said goodbye to a trio of seniors — Eden Schlagenhauf, Alessandra Traub and Anika Nissen — who shaped the program into where it stood at the NCAA Division II National Championships Quarterfinals.

The result — a 4-0 loss to No. 1 Barry University — stung for the eighth-seeded Saints, but it symbolized the bond these six women created over the course of the year.

Through adversity and resilience, the Saints made it to the Sweet Sixteen back-to-back years and appeared in the program's first Elite Eight to ink their name in the record books.

"I'm very proud of this group and the adversity the ladies faced all year to reach a program first," Flagler head coach Rodrigo Puebla said. "This is a very special class as Anika, Alessandra and Eden leave as one of the most successful seasons since the beginning of the Division II era.

This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: College tennis: Flagler College shines in NCAA playoffs