Nashville, Tenn.—The Georgia State men’s tennis team fell in the NCAA Tournament Regional first round to No. 26-ranked Illinois to end one of its most successful seasons in school history.

The No. 64-ranked Panthers finish the 2013 season with a 15-11 record and a Sun Belt Conference title. GSU made its sixth appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament and its first since the 2007 season. The Sun Belt championship was GSU’s first conference title since 2007.

“We had a great season, hats off to Illinois as they played very well, this is the level we want to compete at year after year,” first-year head coach Joerg Barthel said. “I am very proud of the guys for the season we have had and I am excited to watch Victor and Lucas compete in the singles and doubles tournaments. I am excited for what the future holds for this team.”

Seniors Lucas Santa Ana and Victor Valente will continue play this season in individual tournaments. Valente, ranked No. 63 in the nation, qualified for the NCAA Singles Championship while Santa Ana and Valente will compete in the NCAA Doubles Championship.

The Panthers fell behind by a point after dropping the doubles point. Santa Ana and Valente however paced the No. 1 doubles match, jumping out to a 7-5 lead before the match was halted. Santa Ana and Valente led the No. 16-ranked doubles team in the nation in Illinois sophomores Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon.

GSU got off to a slow start in singles play and quickly fell behind 3-0 in the team score. The Panthers were just three weeks shy of being in the same position before they rallied to a 4-3 win vs. No. 49-ranked MTSU to win the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

Freshman Paul Schuette went to the third set at the No. 5 singles position. Junior Robert Schulze dropped the first set but led the second set by a 3-2 margin.

The NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships begin on May 22 in Urbana, Ill. Visit the men’s tennis page on for a preview of the event.