Seniors rely on underclassmen for victory on Senior Day
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 14, 2012) – The No. 73 ETSU men’s tennis team finished off its perfect Atlantic Sun season with a 5-2 victory against USC Upstate on Saturday at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center.
The win caps off ETSU’s (12-8, 9-0 A-Sun) fifth undefeated conference season in seven years, making this the Bucs’ first flawless run since going 9-0 in 2009. ETSU will also enter the Atlantic Sun Championships as the No. 1 seed and earn a first-round bye with its sixth regular season title. Meanwhile, USC Upstate (11-9, 4-5 A-Sun) will head back to Johnson City, Tenn., next week as the No. 5 seed.
Although it was Senior Day, ETSU’s graduating class of Sander Gille (Kuringen, Belgium), Jeremy Bonnevalle (Keerbergen, Belgium) and Robin Akser (Ornskoldsvik, Sweden) had to rely on their teammates to pick them up. Gille and Bonnevalle each saw their respective 11-match winning streaks and perfect A-Sun singles records come to an end in match tiebreakers, while Akser and Gille dropped the Bucs’ only doubles match of the day.
“Today was a really tough match and was bittersweet at the same time,” said Director of ETSU Tennis Yaser Zaatini, who has now coached the men’s team to all six of its A-Sun regular season titles. “Our seniors have bailed us out the whole year by going pretty much undefeated in singles, and for the team to bail them out today is a great tribute to the respect this team has for its seniors.”
“I’m also extremely happy with the performance this team has put together during the year after the horrible start to straighten out the ship a little.”
ETSU got on the board early with two quick doubles victories.
Junior Jesus Bandres (Caracas, Venezuela) and freshman Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) rolled through the No. 3 match with an 8-0 defeat of Gonzalo Blanco and Jacob Darling, before junior Juan Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay) and Bonnevalle grabbed the point with an 8-2 defeat of Yvon Haessig and Tyler Grove at No. 2. The Spartans got a little consolation in the No. 1 match with Ramiro Blanco and Matthias Kidler spoiling the final regular season match for Gille and Akser by taking down the senior duo 8-7 (7-4).
The Bucs’ juniors and underclassmen pulled through once more in singles.
Sophomore Roger Ordeig (Gurb, Spain) got the second half of the day started with a convincing 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Darling. Shortly after, Ribeiro completed his perfect individual A-Sun season with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Grove in the No. 5 slot, finishing off the ETSU freshman’s conference season with a flawless mark of 9-0.
Up 3-0 in the match, Bandres clinched ETSU’s unbeaten conference season at No. 2 with a 6-2, 6-4 downing of Kidler. Of the three remaining matches on court, Ramirez pulled out the only other Buccaneer point at No. 3 by coming back to defeat Gonzalo Blanco 2-6, 6-0, 6-2.
The senior Belgian duo was not as fortunate. Gille watched a 5-2 second set lead slip away to eventually dropped the set in a tiebreak, before ultimately losing in a match tiebreak to Ramiro Blanco 4-6, 7-6 (7-1), 1-0 (10-4). Bonnevalle suffered the same fate as Gille, winning the first set before dropping the second and the match tiebreak 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-8).
The ETSU men’s tennis team now looks ahead to the A-Sun Championships which it will host at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center next Friday, April 20, through Sunday, April 22. Quarterfinal action is scheduled for Friday, with semifinal action to follow on Saturday before the final on Sunday.
For more information on ETSU tennis, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the tennis links.