JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 5, 2009) - After again playing against a ranked non-conference opponent last weekend the ETSU men's tennis team will open its quest for its third consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championships with a pair of conference matches this weekend.
The No. 60-ranked Bucs host conference foe Lipscomb with a 2:00 p.m., contest Friday, followed by 1:00 p.m., match against Belmont Saturday at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center on the ETSU campus in Johnson City. The Bucs currently boast a 24-match unbeaten streak in A-Sun play that dates back to April 14, 2006 against Belmont.
ETSU (1-6, 0-0 A-Sun) enters its first home match on campus after coming off two losses during play last weekend in Minneapolis, Minn. In its first match on Saturday the Bucs fell at No. 24-ranked Minnesota, then followed that performance up with a disappointing 4-3, decision in favor of Western Michigan. Despite the slow start to the season ETSU has faced one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. In the opening month of the season the Bucs have faced three of the top five ranked teams in the ITA all on the road.
Individually, freshman Sander Gille (Kuringen, Belgium) and senior Enrique Olivares (Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela) leads the Bucs into the league contests Friday. Gille has been red-hot as of late picking up back-to-back singles wins in both ETSU losses last weekend. The ETSU newcomer now leads the Bucs with five dual match singles wins, in addition to staying unbeaten with teammate Matej Zlatkovic (Ljiubjana, Slovenia) in doubles action. Olivares welcomes conference play after leading the league with an ITA singles ranking of No. 13th in the country.
Lipscomb (5-1, 0-0 A-Sun) enters its first conference match after falling at Western Kentucky 4-3, last Saturday. The Bisons jumped on the Hilltoppers early winning the doubles point however WKU rallied to take four singles contest for the win. Individually, sophomore Mario Hernandez leads the way for Lipscomb after winning both his singles and doubles matches against Western Kentucky.
After playing USC Upstate in its league opener this Friday Belmont (4-3, 0-0) strolls into the Tri-Cities after capping off its non-conference schedule with wins at Western Kentucky and Samford. The Bruins and Bucs do have one common opponent this spring as Belmont fell at third-ranked Virginia 5-2, Jan. 25. Individually, junior Joao Paoliello leads the Belmont attack. The reigning A-Sun Player of the Week is coming off his best performance of the season as the Londrina, Brazil native picked a pair of victories in No. 1 singles action and with partner Rodrigo Amaral in doubles play.
Results will be available online at www.ETSUBucs.com after the conclusion of both matches.