JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 11, 2003) - East Tennessee State's men's tennis team earned at least a share of the 2003 Southern Conference championship after defeating Chattanooga 5-2 Friday afternoon indoors at Memorial Center. It is the Buccaneers sixth regular season title and first since 2000, as ETSU wraps up the regular season with a 14-6 overall record and 8-1 mark in the SoCon.
"Every team that comes here doesn't want to play us," said ETSU's first-year head coach Yaser Zaatini following Friday's regular season finale. "Chattanooga is a good team indoors, and they came ready to play."
The Mocs (8-14, 4-4 SoCon) started out strong by capturing the doubles point rebounded with some strong singles play throughout the lineup. Chattanooga's lone singles win came at the No. 2 flight, as the Buc's Alejandro Salazar (Arequipa, Peru) dropped a tough three-set match to John Hangstefer, 6-4, 6-7, 10-8. The loss snapped an eight-match winning streak for Salazar.
Senior captain Marcos Pavlovich (Otamendi, Argentina) pulled off a huge victory for ETSU at the No. 1 singles position by defeating nationally ranked Jason Ontog in three sets (6-3, 2-6, 6-3). Diego Iglesias (Mar del Plata, Argentina) also went the distance in knocking off Thomas Knizat 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, at No. 3.
Newcomer Fernando Fiuri (Villa Maria) went undefeated in conference play with a perfect 9-0 record playing in the No. 4 slot following his 6-4, 6-1 win over Alex Mabred. Fiuri completed the regular season with a 14-5 mark overall and 14-2 at the No. 4 position. Moises Serrano (Bucaramanga, Colombia) defeated John Gamble at No. 5 singles (6-1, 6-2), while Federico Ochoa clinched the match with his 6-2, 7-6, victory over Tim Kutschera.
In doubles action, the No. 1 tandem of Pavlovich and Salazar picked up their eighth SoCon win of the season, defeating Ontog/Knizat by a score of 8-6. However, UTC's duo of Kutschera and Hangstefer defeated Fiuri/Ochoa 8-6 at No. 3 doubles, before the Mocs' Dustin Kane and Kyle True garnered an 8-4 win over Iglesias/Serrano at the No. 2 spot.
ETSU has now won its last eight matches, including 12 of its last 13 heading into the Southern Conference Men's Tennis Championships. The tournament begins Wednesday, April 16 and will be played at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. The Buccaneers can still win the regular season title outright if Georgia Southern defeated College of Charleston on Saturday, April 12. If College of Charleston wins its final regular season match, then the Buccaneers will be the number two seed in the tournament due to a tiebreaker.
East Tennessee State 5, Chattanooga 2
1.) Marcos Pavlovich (ETSU) def. Jason Ontog (UTC), 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
2.) John Hangstefer (UTC) def. Alejandro Salazar (ETSU), 6-4, 6-7, 10-8
3.) Diego Iglesias (ETSU) def. Thomas Knizat (UTC), 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
4.) Fernando Fiuri (ETSU) def. Alex Mabred (UTC), 6-4, 6-1
5.) Moises Serrano (ETSU) def. John Gamble (UTC), 6-1, 6-2
6.) Federico Ochoa (ETSU) def. Tim Kutschera (UTC), 6-2, 7-6
1.) Salazar/Pavlovich (ETSU) def. Ontog/Knizat (UTC), 8-6
2.) Kane/True (UTC) def. Iglesias/Serrano (ETSU), 8-4
3.) Kutschera/Hangstefer (UTC) def. Fiuri/Ochoa (ETSU), 8-6