Seventh Heaven! Bucs take down UNF, 4-2, win A-Sun title
Play Video VIDEO: The championship point, celebration, and interviews with Ribeiro and Zaatini.
VIDEO: The championship point, celebration, and interviews with Ribeiro and Zaatini.
Ribeiro being awarded the A-Sun Tournament MVP by Assistant Commissioner John Roberts.
Ribeiro being awarded the A-Sun Tournament MVP by Assistant Commissioner John Roberts.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ribeiro named Tournament MVP

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 21, 2013) -- The ETSU men's tennis team won its seventh consecutive Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship, taking down top-seed North Florida, 4-2, on Sunday afternoon from the ETSU Tennis Complex. 

The great crowd on hand erupted as sophomore Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) clinched the title on court two, 6-3, 6-4, past Daniel Sotomarino. Ribeiro was named A-Sun Tournament MVP, winning a crucial doubles set alongside last year's MVP Jesus Bandres (Caracas, Venezuela) and going undefeated in singles at 2-0 through the tournament. 

“This seventh championship is beyond understanding,” said Director of ETSU Tennis Yaser Zaatini, who has coached the Buccaneers to all seven of their A-Sun tournament titles. “I can’t explain. I’m just so proud of the team, the way they fought and what they’ve given to this university.”

Junior Roger Ordeig (Gurb, Spain) and redshirt freshman Ricardo Pabon (Bogota, Columbia) were named to the all-tournament team. Pabon won ETSU's first singles match of championship Sunday and Ordeig gave the Buccaneers their third point on court five. Both were also victorious against Lipscomb in the semifinals.

“Even though we went away with this championship, I feel we left one on the table,” added Zaatini, who watched his women’s team suffer a 4-2 loss in that final earlier in the day. “I feel terrible for the girls. I’m excited for the seniors who are graduating, but extremely sad at how we lost that women’s final.”

Zaatini’s emotions went from sad to joyous by the time the afternoon ended, watching his men’s team win in heroic fashion.

An epic championship final began with a true battle for the doubles point. On court two, senior Juan Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay) and junior Jorge Varon (Valencia, Venezuela) won a back-and-forth battle with Julien Belair and Timo Kranz, 8-5. Then, Leonardo Nahar and Sotomarino leveled the series, 8-5, defeating Pabon and Ordeig on court three.

The split setup Bandres and Ribeiro versus Moritz Buerchner and Norbert Nemcsek to decide the championship’s first point. The ETSU duo led 7-4, only to see UNF win the next three games and get right back in the set. Each side held serve and the doubles point went down to a tiebreak, where Bandres and Ribeiro eventually celebrated, 9-8 (7-4).

It made a huge difference in the final outcome. ETSU needed just three singles matches and it would be hoisting its seventh straight A-Sun trophy.

“I saw from the beginning that if we did not get the point, it would be an uphill battle,” added Zaatini. “We wound up taking it and it proved to be the winning point. It meant too much.”

UNF made singles points tough to come by. In the top match, Buerchner got his revenge by downing Bandres, 6-4, 6-1, before Belair gave the Ospreys their first lead at 2-1 by downing Ramirez, 6-2, 7-5, on court three.

Pabon got the momentum right back. The first-year starter and A-Sun All-Freshman put away Kranz on court six, 6-2, 6-1, leveling the score for the final time.

With Ordeig up a set on five and Ribeiro up a set on two, the Johnson City crowd could feel it. Seemingly simultaneously, the two Bucs went up a break and the reality of a seventh championship started to sink in.

Ordeig let out the winning cry on court five, 6-3, 6-3, against Nahar and all eyes focused on court two where Ribeiro led his second set 5-3. Sotomarino held serve to get it back to 5-4, but Ribeiro got his chance to serve out the championship and did just that, going up 40-love for three championship points and converting.

The first round of the NCAA Tournament begins May 10.

2013 Atlantic Sun Men's Tennis All-Tournament Team

Rogerio Ribeiro, ETSU – Tournament MVP  
Ricardo Pabon, ETSU
Roger Ordeig, ETSU
Moritz Buerchner, North Florida
Julien Belair, North Florida
Jordi Vives, FGCU
 

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