KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (May 7, 2009) - A year removed from upsetting Norte Dame in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament the No. 61st ranked ETSU men's tennis team will look to play spoiler once again as the Bucs open the 2009 NCAA Championship against in-state rival Tennessee with a 1 p.m. match Friday at the Goodfriend Tennis Center Varsity Courts in Knoxville.
The Bucs and the fifth-ranked Volunteers will square off, following the first match of the day that features No. 51 Radford (20-3), who won the Big South Tournament, and No. 23 Duke (15-8). This is the second time this spring that the Bucs (13-7) and Vols (21-6) will face one another, as Tennessee opened the dual match season with a 6-1, victory over ETSU in January.
ETSU has not played since claiming its third straight Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament title two weeks ago, as the Bucs rolled past Stetson 4-2. ETSU will be making its seventh NCAA tournament appearance and third straight in the last three seasons under head coach Yaser Zaatini. The Bucs are 1-5 all-time in the tournament after winning its first NCAA match last May. Both the Vols and Bucs have one other common fact, as both faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation, with ETSU playing 10 ranked opponents this spring, while the Vols squared off against nine.
Individually, senior captain Enrique Olivares (Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela) leads the Buc attack, after earning his second straight invitation to the NCAA Singles Championship last week, after posting a remarkable 31-9 record as the highest ranked singles player in A-Sun history.
In one of the most anticipating matches Friday, Olivares should face Tennessee's J.P. Smith at the No. 1 singles position. The No. 18-ranked Olivares and Smith have one of the top rivalries in the region as both ranked players have squared off three times in the past year. Olivares knocked off Smith at the prestigious D'Novo/ITA All-American this past fall, while Smith got the better of the two All-Americans defeating Olivares both in the NCAA Singles Championships quarterfinals last May and in the Vols victory over the Bucs earlier this spring.
Tennessee comes into the match after receiving an at-large bid into the field. The Vols are led by ranked players Smith, who is No. 5 in singles nationally, and sophomore teammate Boris Conkic, who sits at No. 37. Overall, Tennessee is making its 20th NCAA appearance. The Vols are 27-19 all-time in championship play, while posting an 11-1 mark at home in the postseason.
Attached above is a copy of the ETSU men's tennis postseason notes and quick facts, in addition to the tournament central webpage, which features live stats and updates throughout the match.
For more information on the ETSU men's tennis team please visit www.ETSUBucs.com.