JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 19, 2010) - For the first time since the ETSU men's tennis team joined the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2005-06, the 49th-ranked Bucs dropped a league regular season match Friday as 68th-ranked USC Upstate upended head coach Yaser Zaatini's squad 4-3 at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center in Johnson City.
With the loss ETSU fell to 7-7 on the season with a 4-1 mark in A-Sun action, while the Spartans improved to 12-5 overall and 5-0 in league play.
In addition to losing their first A-Sun regular season match ever, Upstate ended ETSU's 38 match conference winning streak and 47 match home court winning streak.
"Records and streaks eventually come to an end and that's simply what happened today," said Zaatini. "I was extremely proud that this program didn't lose a regular season match for so long but the bottom line is that we are out here just playing tennis. It's not life or death. These kids work so hard and I'm heartbroken that it's over, but now our team has a chance to start a new one tomorrow."
As play got underway Upstate took the first doubles match at the No. 1 position as Javier Tori and Renzo Airaldi broke juniors Grega Teraz (Mojstrana, Slovenia) and Charles Bottoni (Bois Guillaume, France), 8-6. After senior Daniel Isaza (Medellin, Columbia) and sophomore Robin Akser (Ornskoldsvik, Sweden) outlasted Ramiro Blanco and Edgar Rodriguez 9-8 the outcome of the point came on the No. 2 court.
After neither ETSU or Upstate could pull away as the match went deeper into competition Marco Linconir and Jack Roux finally gave the Spartans the advantage as they took the close 9-8 win over freshman Jesus Bandres (Caracas, Venezuela) and sophomore Sander Gille (Kuringen, Belgium).
"We had our chances to win the doubles point and we let them off the hook," said Zaatini. "At No. 1 Upstate beat us straight up and then at No. 2 we had a breakup most of the match and couldn't hold on. You can't have easy mistakes and unforced errors against a good quality team like Upstate."
Needing to win four out the six singles matches ETSU began its comeback as Bottoni - who has been injured the last couple of weeks - returned with a impressive 6-1, 6-4 victory over Roux at No. 3. Upstate then retook the lead as sophomore Jeremy Bonnevalle (Keerbergen, Belgium) couldn't overcome a tough match at No. 6 against Linconir losing 6-4, 6-4.
However, the Upstate lead wouldn't last long as Gille tied the contest at 2-2 with his 7-5, 7-5 win against Rodriguez at No. 1 and Teraz closed out his match with Airaldi in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 at No. 2.
With the tides turned against the Spartans, Upstate responded as Javier Tori - the school's winnings player - overcame a first set loss (6-7) to Isaza winning the last two frames 6-4, 6-2.
With the match tied at 3-3 ETSU freshman Juan-Carlos Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay) keep the Bucs alive temporarily, after losing the first set to Blanco 6-1, with a 7-6 win in the second set. Ramirez and Blanco then traded service games through the first eight games for the third set, before the Upstate sophomore broke the Buc newcomer at 5-4. From there the Spartans closed out the win the next game at 6-4.
"Going into the singles I really didn't know where we were going to get our four points," said Zaatini. "I didn't think we'd lose both five and six, however I didn't expect us to win both matches at one and two. So ultimately this match was decided at the meat of our lineup. Charlie stepped up today at No. 3 and Juan-Carlos did a great job keeping us alive in that second set. That being said, eventually our mistakes hurt us too much. Upstate was simply the better team today."
ETSU looks to get back on track as they take on league foe Campbell with a 11 a.m. contest Saturday at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center.
Attached above are final results from Friday's match between ETSU and USC Upstate.
For more information of the ETSU men's tennis team please visit www.ETSUBucs.com.