LUBBOCK, Texas (Feb. 14, 2015) - Enduring windy conditions, two perennial powers squared off Saturday, with ETSU coming away with a hard-fought, 4-2 neutral-site victory versus Texas A&M - Corpus Christi in Lubbock, Texas.
ETSU has made eight consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, while Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has clinched NCAA Tournament berths in five of the last seven seasons.
Saturday, however, belonged to the Bucs (2-6).
"As expected, it was a tough battle in the winds," ETSU Head Coach Yaser Zaatini said. "The conditions were much different than what the Bucs have seen, but we persevered."
ETSU opened the match by convincingly earning the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles points to take an early 1-0 advantage.
Ismael Merino (Lima, Peru) and Robert Herrera (Barcelona, Spain) teamed up to defeat the Islanders' (3-2) Kevin Bettendroffer and Paul Cook, 6-1, at No. 2. Meanwhile, Conner Huertas del Pino (Lima, Peru) paired with Sebastian Yllera (Cinco Saltos, Argentina) to cruise to a 6-0 win at No. 3.
The Buccaneers extended their match lead to 3-0 after Herrera and Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) picked up straight-set wins at No. 6 and No. 2 Singles, respectively.
ETSU then withstood a rally by Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, as the Islanders won the No. 3 and No. 1 Singles spots to cut the Bucs' advantage to 3-2.
After narrowly dropping the first set of his No. 5 Singles match, 6-4, team captain Ismael Merino responded by winning back-to-back sets, 6-2, 6-3, to clinch the victory for ETSU.
"The Islanders played a tough match," Zaatini said. "We came out swinging, taking the doubles point, and then they [AMCC] woke up and started a comeback. We managed to close it out with Merino clinching. With an ankle strain, he showed courage and conviction and got us the win we so desperately needed."
ETSU will look to build on Saturday's win as the Bucs host Tennessee Tech Friday, Feb. 27 in their first home match of the season.
"A grueling road schedule filled with powerhouse teams wears you down, but for sure makes us stronger," Zaatini said.
Each of ETSU's first eight matches has come on the road, while five matches have been against ranked opponents.
ETSU 4, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 2
1. Peter Nagy (AMCC) def. David Biosca (ETSU) 6-4, 6-4
2. Rogerio Ribeiro (ETSU) def. Kevin Bettendroffer (AMCC) 6-3, 6-0
3. Ricardo Mayagoitia (AMCC) def. Sebastian Yllera (ETSU) 6-3, 6-1
4. Conner Huertas (ETSU) vs. Guillaume Rauseo (AMCC) 6-4, 4-6, 6-5, unfinished
5. Ismael Merino (ETSU) def. Javier Pujol (AMCC) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
6. Robert Herrera (ETSU) def. Paul Cook (AMCC) 6-4, 6-0
1. Rogerio Ribeiro/David Biosca (ETSU) vs. Peter Nagy/Guillaume Rauseo (AMCC) 4-4, unfinished
2. Ismael Merino/Robert Herrera (ETSU) def. Kevin Bettendroffer/Paul Cook (AMCC) 6-1
3. Conner Huertas/Sebastian Yllera (ETSU) def. Arthur Bedel/Mitchell Cook (AMCC) 6-0
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 3-2
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (6,2,3,1,5)
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