WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Gardner-Webb begins its quest for the 2017 Big South Conference Men's Tennis Championship on Wednesday morning, with sights set on capping the best regular season in the program's Division I history with a postseason title.
The Runnin' Bulldogs – seeded second – are set to take on No. 7 seed UNC Asheville at 9:00 am on the courts at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. With wet weather in the area, the match could be moved indoors, or adjusted to later in the day.
"I'm unsure if being the No. 2 seed means a lot because the conference is very balanced," said head coach Mike Griffith. "Still, the team is very proud of the accomplishment of going 5-2 in Big South play this spring. UNC Asheville is going to be a very tough first round match. However, with our team we really have great chemistry and our preparation has been fantastic this past week and weekend – so we are ready to go.
"Everyone in our top-six has won a huge match at some point for us this season. That, along with our team chemistry, has helped us achieve a high level of success within the conference. That has been our strength. Hopefully we can translate that into success in the tournament."
Two-time All-Big South ace Maximilian Scholl headlines the Runnin' Bulldogs at No. 1 singles, and built on his 2016 Freshman of the Year campaign by going 18-4 overall and 6-1 in Big South Conference play.
Veteran Paul Hogan manned the No. 2 singles slot for much for all but one match this season for Gardner-Webb, and came into his own, winning six times in that flight. Hogan enjoyed a perfect, 3-0 week earlier this season to help GWU to team wins over UNC Asheville, North Carolina A&T and Radford and has been a valuable doubles player as well – winning 12 times at No. 1 doubles this season.
Adam Schmidt was sooid at No. 3 singles, winning eight times overall and five times in the No. 3 slot. Schmidt also posted a 2-2 mark at No. 2 doubles this season.
All-Conference freshman Breno Plentz went 12-8 overal this season, seeing action all over the lineup – ranging from No. 3 singles to No. 6 singles. He won four matches each at No. 4 and No. 6. Plentz also teamed with Scholl often at No. 2 doubles to go 7-5 – including a 5-2 mark in league play.
Gilbert finished the regular season with a 12-8 overall mark in singles play, but was a clutch 5-0 at No. 6 singles. The Bath, England, native went 4-3 against Big South foes overall and enters the league tournament with a 7-3 mark over his last 10 matches.
Fors was equally impressive, particularly down the stretch for GWU. He went 4-2 in league matches and 9-4 overall while splitting time primarily between No. 5 and No. 6 singles. Fors went 3-0 at No. 5 singles and won five times at No. 6. He, like Gilbert, is hot entering the tournament – having gone 8-2 over his last 10 matches.
Gardner-Webb topped UNC Asheville, 6-1, in the regular season meeting on March 14.
For updates throughout the tournament, visit BigSouthSports.com or follow @BigSouthTennis on Twitter.