SPARTANBURG, S.C. (April 8, 2009) - Ever since joining the Atlantic Sun Conference four seasons ago the ETSU men's tennis team has done one thing well, win championships. Just like it has each of the past three years the No. 63-ranked Bucs closed out the regular season by earning its fourth consecutive A-Sun crown dropping league rival No. 65-ranked USC Upstate 4-3, Wednesday at the USC Upstate Tennis Complex in
Overall, in the A-Sun ETSU (11-7, 9-0 A-Sun) has dominated league play posting an incredible 41-1 record in the past four seasons, while individually senior Enrique Olivares (Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela), now sits as the winningest singles player in league history with a remarkable career conference mark of 30-1.
"Words can't describe what this team accomplished today," said head coach Yaser Zaatini. "Our guys have worked so hard to get to this point. We started off the season playing such a tough non-conference schedule and our young team had to go through the process of maturing and learning how to play to their potential. With the help and leadership of both seniors (Enrique Olivares and Alex Ahlgren), the underclassmen kept working hard everyday and learned to gain the confidence to win in this league. As a coach you take one match at a time, but looking back over the past four seasons and the accomplishments this program has achieved it just leaves you speechless."
Battling both the pressure of a championship and a tough Upstate home crowd, ETSU opened play taking two out of the three doubles matches. The Buccaneer team of sophomores Charles Bottoni (
As singles played opened No. 12-ranked Olivares continued to dominate this spring picking up his 11 straight win dropping Airald in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3, while teammate Grega Teraz quickly gave the Bucs a 3-0 advantage making quick work of Javier Tori, 6-0, 6-1.
Just when it looked like ETSU would cruise to an easy victory the tough-minded Spartans rallied winning the next three straight singles contest tying the match at 3-3. With the contest and title on the line ETSU's hopes came down to Alex Ahlgren and his No. 6 singles contest. After dropping the first set to Leandro Osorio 3-6, the ETSU captain showed what leadership is all about crushing the Upstate senior in the final two frames, 6-1, 6-1 for the one point win.
"What more can you say about the two seniors in this match," said Zaatini. "Both of these guys have been clutch when our team needed it the most their whole career and today was no different. The way Alex and Enrique seized the doubles point early really got our team off to a good start. I hated to see our guys get a bit relaxed and lose three straight singles matches at two, four and five, but Alex stepped-up after being down a set and fought his way for a tough win."
With the win the nationally ranked Bucs earned the top-seed in the upcoming A-Sun tournament, which will be held at the
For more information on the ETSU men's tennis program please visit www.ETSUBucs.com