Bucs looking to take down region’s top seed for first time
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 9, 2013) – Twice over its past five NCAA Tournament appearances, the ETSU men’s tennis team has walked away with a first-round victory. Both wins came with ETSU slated as the region’s No. 3 seed, defeating the No. 2 on a neutral court.
Friday, ETSU (13-6, 7-1 A-Sun) hopes to make program history and take down an NCAA regional host for the first time, when it takes on the No. 16 overall seed, Vanderbilt (16-10, 6-6 SEC). The first-round matchup from the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville is scheduled for 3 p.m., ET.
The NCAA appearance will be ETSU’s 11th overall – the first coming in 1999 – and its seventh trip in as many years. Zaatini has led ETSU to nine NCAA berths and each of its two wins. His first time leading the Bucs to an NCAA Tournament as head coach came in 2004, before earning the program’s first win in 2008 over Notre Dame. The second victory came in a first-round matchup over Alabama in 2010.
Hoping to lead ETSU on the court to its third NCAA win will be senior Jesus Bandres (Caracas, Venezuela). The All-Atlantic Sun First Team selection was 13-4 on the spring 2013 campaign in No. 1 singles matches, including a record of 2-1 against nationally ranked opponents. He is expected to face another on Friday in Vandy’s No. 13 Ryan Lipman who is 18-6 this spring and 15-6 when playing on the top court.
Another A-Sun First Team pick, Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil), will be another key to victory for the Bucs. The A-Sun Tournament MVP was 14-4 on the dual season with all matches coming on court two. He enters Friday on an 11-match winning streak, but will have to do something he has not done all season if he wants to make it 12 and defeat a nationally ranked singles player. Ribeiro is 0-5 in such contests and will more than likely play No. 47 Gonzales Austin, who went 12-7 in the No. 2 spot for the Commodores this season.
The remainder of the ETSU lineup is also expected to remain the same with senior Juan Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay) playing on court three, junior Jorge Varon (Valencia, Venezuela) on four, junior Roger Ordeig (Gurb, Spain) on five and redshirt freshman Ricardo Pabon (Bogota, Columbia) rounding out the order. Ramirez and Varon will team at doubles No. 2, while Ordeig and Pabon make up the No. 3 duo.
Vanderbilt will be making its fourth consecutive trip to the big dance and 12th overall. The Commodores are 13-11 all-time in the Tournament, losing to Notre Dame in the first round last year. Entering Friday, VU has lost three of its last four matches, falling at South Carolina and Florida to end the regular season, and being exited from the SEC Tournament by Tennessee.
Illinois and Georgia State get the four-team regional action underway Friday at noon. The two winners compete in the regional final on Saturday at 3 p.m., for a spot in the 16-team NCAA Championships, hosted by the University of Illinois from May 16-27.
Live stats for all of the Nashville regional’s contests will be provided by VUCommodores.com.
ETSU fans wanting Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on ETSU men’s tennis, please visit ETSUBucs.com.