KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 16, 2014) - The ETSU men's tennis opened the 2015 season Friday in Knoxville, Tenn., falling, 4-0, to No. 72 North Florida in a non-conference, neutral-site match.
Friday's match marked the Bucs' first regular-season contest as a Southern Conference representative since 2005; however, ETSU was haunted by a familiar foe from the program's recent past.
During ETSU's nine years in the Atlantic Sun Conference prior to rejoining the SoCon, ETSU and North Florida were perennial contenders in the league. The two teams met in the final of the A-Sun conference tournament each of the past three years, with the Bucs winning all three contests; however, the Ospreys came away with a 4-0 victory Friday in non-conference play.
"It is not the start I was expecting..." ETSU head coach Yaser Zaatini said. "...not necessarily because of the loss, but more so because of our experience and depth. We are a solid team with some miles under us. Even though a loss was always within sight, we just got outplayed."
The 67th-ranked Bucs narrowly missed out on capturing the doubles point to start the day, with Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and David Biosca (Sant Fruitos de Bage, Spain) suffering a 7-6 loss to Caio Gomes and Yannick Zuern at the No. 2 doubles spot, giving UNF the point with a 2-1 advantage in doubles.
Prior to Ribeiro and Biosca's narrow loss, teammates Ismael Merino (Lima, Peru) and Diego Nunez (Monterrey, Mexico) made quick work of UNF's 28th-ranked duo of Jack Findel-Hawkins and Norbert Nemcsek, winning by a 6-1 margin and becoming just the fourth tandem to defeat Findel-Hawkins and Nemcsek in their past 17 regular-season matches.
In singles play, the Ospreys won three spots in straight sets to clinch the victory. Nunez and Conner Huertas (Lima, Peru) were each in the midst of three-set matches when play was halted.
"This was no doubt a rough way to start," Zaatini said. "We have to pick up the pieces and look ahead. We've got a lot of ground to cover. The good thing—I hope—is that we can only go up from here."
The Buccaneers will face another tough test Saturday, Jan. 17 as they travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., to take on No. 20 Wake Forest—a team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
Saturday's match is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. Links for live stats and video provided by Wake Forest can be found by clicking here.
Singles competition [ITA Rank]
1. #72 Jack Findel-Hawkins (UNF) def. #85 David Biosca (ETSU) 6-4, 6-4
2. Caio Gomes (UNF) vs. Rogerio Ribeiro (ETSU) 6-4, 3-5, unfinished
3. Norbert Nemcsek (UNF) vs. Diego Nunez (ETSU) 3-6, 6-3, 2-2, unfinished
4. Yannick Zuern (UNF) vs. Conner Huertas (ETSU) 3-6, 6-2, 2-2, unfinished
5. Lasse Muscheites (UNF) def. Sebastian Yllera (ETSU) 6-2, 6-4
6. Julian Bradley (UNF) def. Ismael Merino (ETSU) 6-4, 6-4
Doubles competition [ITA Rank]
1. Ismael Merino/Diego Nunez (ETSU) def. #28 Jack Findel-Hawkins/Norbert Nemcsek (UNF) 6-1
2. Caio Gomes/Yannick Zuern (UNF) def. Rogerio Ribeiro/David Biosca (ETSU) 7-6
3. Zach Goldberg/Lasse Muscheites (UNF) def. Sebastian Yllera/Conner Huertas (ETSU) 6-4
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (5,1,6)
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