Johnson City, Tenn. (Apr. 21, 2002) -- The No. 2-seeded East Tennessee State men's tennis team advanced to their second NCAA Tournament by defeating the No. 1-seeded Furman Paladins, 4-2, for the 2002 Southern Conference Championship Sunday from the Earle Tennis Center on the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.
The win avenges ETSU's only Southern Conference loss of the season, a 7-0 defeat at Furman's hands on Apr. 10 from Greenville, S.C.
Although dropping the doubles point, ETSU responded in singles play, taking four of five matches to seal the victory. Buccaneer junior Marcos Pavlovich (Otamendi, Argentina) set the tone early by defeating Southern Conference Player-of-the-Year John Chesworth of Furman, 6-4, 6-4, in the No. 1 slot. ETSU senior captain Roberto Fernandez (Cuernavaca, Mexico) clinched the match in the match at No. 2 singles, rallying from behind 4-2 in the second set to defeat James Cameron, 7-6, 6-4. Fernandez also won the match-clinching point as a freshman against Chattanooga that won ETSU's last Southern Conference championship in 1999.
ETSU sophomore Alejandro Salazar (Arequipa, Peru) and freshman Moises Serrano (Bucaramanga, Colombia) posted wins at the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, respectively. Serrano was named the Men's Tournament Most Outstanding Player after clinching the semifinal win for ETSU and notching a point for the Bucs in the final.
The Paladins struck first by taking the doubles point. Furman's tandem of Chesworth and Cameron held off Pavlovich and Fernandez, 8-2, in the No. 1 matchup. Furman's Allen Simmons and Chris Henderson mirrored their teammates' performance in the No. 3 spot, downing the Bucs' Diego Iglesias (Mar del Plata, Argentina) and Serrano, 8-3.
"This was a total team victory today," said ETSU head coach Dave Mullins following the match. "I am so proud of our guys for what we have accomplished this weekend. Our win against UNCG yesterday was a huge step, it gave us the opportunity to avenge our loss to Furman earlier this season."
The Buccaneers must wait until Thursday, May 2 until they will learn their matchup for the first round of the NCAA Championships.
No. 1: Marcos Pavlovich (ETSU) def. John Chesworth (Furman), 6-4, 6-4
No. 2: Roberto Fernandez (ETSU) def. James Cameron (Furman), 7-6, 6-4
No. 3: Chris Henderson (Furman) def. Pablo Sahagun (ETSU), 6-4, 6-4
No. 4: Diego Iglesias (ETSU) vs. Patrick Gaughan (Furman), 4-6, 6-4, 1-0, DNF
No. 5: Alejandro Salazar (ETSU) def. Patrick Fillnow (Furman), 7-5, 6-3
No. 6: Moises Serrano (ETSU) def. Ryan McCarthy (Furman), 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
No. 1: Chesworth/Cameron (Furman) def. Pavlovich/Fernandez (ETSU), 8-2
No. 2: Sahagun/Salazar (ETSU) vs. Rogers/Netzler (Furman), 6-4, DNF
No. 3: Simmons/Henderson (Furman) def. Iglesias/Serrano (ETSU), 8-3
East Tennessee State: 17-7