WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Jan. 18, 2014) - With a lineup consisting of five newcomers and just two returning players, the ETSU men's tennis team picked up three points in a road match-up Saturday against No. 19 Wake Forest, suffering a narrow 5-3 setback.
In the team's opening match of the season, ETSU's newcomers, including four true freshman, exceeded expectations, pushing the nationally-ranked Demon Deacons to the brink of defeat.
"Our guys battled extremely hard tonight," ETSU head coach Yaser Zaatini said. "Although we came up short, there is a lot to build on."
Freshman Conner Huertas Del Pino (Lima, Peru) picked up a win in his collegiate debut, beating Wake Forest's Jaya Billa, 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 7 singles spot. He was joined by sophomores Ricardo Pabon (Bogota, Columbia) and Sebastian Yllera (Cinco Saltos, Argentina) in the win column for the Bucs.
Pabon outlasted Aws Laaribi in come-from-behind fashion, winning 2-6, 6-5 (7-5), 6-4 to take the No. 6 singles spot. In his first match as a Buccaneer, Yllera also won in three sets, defeating Jon Ho, 3-6, 6-4, 6-5 (7-2).
"Our freshmen stepped up and played extremely well," Zaatini said. "We gave Wake Forest a good run for their money."
Also making their collegiate debuts for ETSU were freshmen David Biosca (Sant Fruitos De Bage, Spain), Diego Nunez (Monterrey, Mexico), and Ismael Merino (Lima, Peru). The team's lone senior, Roger Ordeig (Gurb, Spain) also saw action for the Bucs.
"The tough part after a rough match is that we have to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again," Zaatini said.
ETSU will continue non-conference play in Winston-Salem Sunday, Jan. 19 at 10:00 a.m. when it takes on Brown.