Men’s tennis looks for first undefeated conference season since 2009
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 13, 2012) – The No. 73 ETSU men’s tennis team will look to conclude the regular season with an undefeated Atlantic Sun Conference record on Saturday when it brings in USC Upstate on Senior Day at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center.
Match time is scheduled for 11 a.m., as ETSU (11-8, 8-0 A-Sun) will try and build upon its 11-game winning streak which began on Feb. 25 with a 6-1 victory over Appalachian State. An ETSU win on Saturday would earn the Buccaneers their first undefeated A-Sun season since running through the league in 2009.
As part of the Senior Day ceremonies, ETSU will honor its graduating class of Sander Gille (Kuringen, Belgium), Jeremy Bonnevalle (Keerbergen, Belgium) and Robin Akser (Ornskoldsvik, Sweden) before the start of the match.
With two victories at home last weekend, the Buccaneers improved their flawless A-Sun record to 8-0.
On Friday against Mercer, ETSU dominated with a doubles sweep before taking five of the six singles points in straight sets. The only blemish on ETSU’s day was at No. 1 singles where Jesus Bandres (Caracas, Venezuela) fell in a match tiebreak 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-6). It was just the second A-Sun match of the season in which ETSU surrendered a point, the other coming Match 17 in the 4-3 win against North Florida.
Against Kennesaw State the following day, the Bucs took every point in a 7-0 sweep to win their 11th-consecutive match. The shutout was ETSU’s seventh of the season, all of which have come through its last nine matches. The only one coming in non-conference action happened on April 3 when ETSU handed then-No. 73 Radford just its fourth loss of the season, 4-0.
Two of ETSU’s seniors, Gille and Bonnevalle, hold the Bucs' best, active winning streaks having each won their last 11 matches. Gille also holds the team-lead in overall and dual wins at 19-8, 13-5 dual, and is also one of three Buccaneers with an 8-0 A-Sun record – Bonnevalle and Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) being the others. Bonnevalle is 18-10 overall, 12-5 dual, but also holds ETSU’s top doubles winning streak having won his last six of those matches. The first four paired Bonnevalle at No. 2 with junior Juan Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay), but the two most recent came last weekend alongside sophomore Jorge Varon (Valencia, Venezuela).
USC Upstate (11-8, 4-4 A-Sun) will be fighting for its spot in the 2012 A-Sun Championships. The Spartans currently sit fifth in the league standings, a half game ahead of FGCU (3-4 A-Sun) and Lipscomb (3-4 A-Sun). With the Eagles and Bison scheduled to face each other Friday, a Spartan victory on Saturday would ensure USC Upstate another trip to Johnson City, Tenn., next weekend. If ETSU wins, USC Upstate’s fate will be left to pending results and potential tiebreakers.
The Spartans enter Saturday as winners of their last two matches. Last Friday, they welcomed Kennesaw State to Spartanburg, S.C., and defeated the Owls 5-2, and then downed Mercer 4-3 on Saturday.
Ramiro Blanco holds USC Upstate’s best spring singles record. Blanco – who is on a four-match winning streak – boasts a 14-3 record through dual play with an 11-3 mark at the No. 1 position.
Last year, ETSU and USC Upstate met in the first match of the conference season as the Bucs pulled out a 4-3 thriller. With the match tied 3-3, Blanco had a chance to serve out the victory, but Bandres broke and went on to win the third set in a 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 final at the No. 2.
For more information on ETSU tennis, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the tennis links.