LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 26, 2012) – The No. 58 ETSU men’s tennis team opens up the spring season on Friday, when it travels to Lexington, Ky. to take on No. 22 Tulsa as part of the ITA Kickoff Weekend at 3 p.m.
Joining the Bucs and Golden Hurricane will be No. 57 North Carolina State and host school No. 7 Kentucky. NC State and Kentucky square off Friday at noon, with the winner advancing to the championship match to take on the victor between ETSU and Tulsa on Saturday at 1 p.m. The remaining two teams play in the consolation match at 10 a.m.
Ultimately, the winner of this weekends’ four-team event advances to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships Round of 16, set to take place on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
The five-time defending Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament champions boast three seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen for the 2011-12 season, including the 2009-10 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, Sander Gille (Kuringen, Belgium). Gille enjoyed a successful fall season, going 6-3 overall on his way to winning the consolation title at the UVA Ranked Plus One Invitational and advancing to the Round of 16 at the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships. Last year, Gille finished with a 16-12 overall record, but won eight-consecutive matches to close out the season – including a 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 NCAA Tournament win over Notre Dame’s Stephen Havens.
ETSU also returns each of its overall wins leaders from last year in juniors Jesus Bandres (Caracas, Venezuela) and Juan Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay). Both Bandres and Ramirez won 21 matches in 2010-11, with Bandres going 21-14 and Ramirez 21-10. Combined, Bandres and Ramirez went 15-1 in Atlantic Sun play, as Bandres was selected First Team All-Conference and Ramirez was named to the A-Sun All-Tournament Team.
Tulsa (0-3) began its season on Jan. 13 against then-No. 14 California, losing to the Golden Bears 4-3. The Golden Hurricane then proceeded to drop its following two contests to then-No. 6 Stanford, 4-3, and then-No. 20 North Carolina, 5-2. All three losses came at Tulsa’s Case Tennis Center.
The latest ITA men’s singles rankings have Tulsa’s Ashley Watling and Grant Ive ranked No. 83 and No. 88, respectively.
Live stats will be available throughout the weekend courtesy of UKathletics.com. A live blog will also be available during each of Kentucky’s matches.
For more information on ETSU tennis, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the tennis links.