Merino, Herrera team up to best ranked UGA duo
ATHENS, Ga. (March 19, 2015) - The ETSU men's tennis team pushed the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs, winners of six NCAA titles, to the brink Thursday, forcing four three-set matches in singles play before suffering a deceivingly disparate, 9-0 loss at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Tennis Facility in Athens, Ga.
"ETSU is a very deep and talented team," Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz said. "They pushed us to our limits today in every match."
Diaz, in his 27th season at Georgia, has led the Bulldogs (14-2) to four NCAA championships (1999, 2001, 2007, 2008).
"I was impressed with their fight and quality of play on every court," Diaz added. "They are every bit as good as most teams we have played against this year, and we have played some of the best teams in the nation. Coach Zaatini and Coach Rojas have that program pointed in the right direction."
Two of the Buccaneers' three doubles teams fell by a service break, while Robert Herrera (Barcelona, Spain) and Ismael Merino (Lima, Peru) earned a marquee victory at the No. 2 spot, defeating Georgia's No. 70 duo of Eric Diaz and Nathan Pasha, 6-4. Herrera and Merino have posted a 4-0 record since Feb. 13.
In singles play, David Biosca (Sant Fruitos de Bage, Spain), Huertas, Sebastian Yllera (Cinco Saltos, Argentina), and Merino each fell in hard-fought three-set matches at their respective positions.
Biosca, Huertas, and co-captain Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) posed formidable challenges to nationally-ranked opponents.
Huertas took No. 15 Nathan Pasha to the wire at No. 3 Singles, coming back from one set down to force a decisive third set which Pasha captured narrowly, 7-6 (7-2). Biosca also responded from a one-set deficit to force a third set, eventually falling to No. 30 Austin Smith, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2), at the No. 1 spot. Meanwhile, Ribeiro tested No. 17 Wayne Montgomery at No. 2 Singles, with Montgomery earning a slim, 6-4, 6-4 win.
"By no means am I satisfied with the result, but looking at a positive aspect of the defeat, I can say there is a lot of growth in this young Buccaneer team," ETSU head coach Yaser Zaatini said. "Even though the score seems lobsided, I thought the guys fought extremely hard and showed courage all across the board."
The Buccaneers, who have gone toe-to-toe with six nationally-ranked teams in non-conference action, open Southern Conference play Saturday, March 21 at UNC Greensboro.
"Despite the loss, I believe our team is blossoming and peaking at the right time. We have a long road ahead against some tough teams, but I believe the early challenges of the season are going to help us be ready to cross the finish the line with some speed. I love what I saw from our guys today."
Prior to rejoining the Southern Conference this year, ETSU was a member of the SoCon from 1978 to 2005.
#5 Georgia 9, East Tennessee State 0
1. #30 Austin Smith (UGA) def. David Biosca (ETSU) 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2)
2. #17 Wayne Montgomery (UGA) def. Rogerio Ribeiro (ETSU) 6-4, 6-4
3. #15 Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Conner Huertas (ETSU) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2)
4. Ben Wagland (UGA) def. Sebastian Yllera (ETSU) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
5. Paul Oosterbaan (UGA) def. Robert Herrera (ETSU) 6-2, 6-4
6. Eric Diaz (UGA) def. Ismael Merino (ETSU) 3-6, 6-1, 6-4
7. Peter Bertran (UGA) def. Diego Nunez (ETSU) 6-2, 6-1
8. Andy Martinez (UGA) def. Ricardo Pabon (ETSU) 6-3, 6-2
1. #7 Austin Smith/Ben Wagland (UGA) def. David Biosca/Rogerio Ribeiro (ETSU) 6-4
2. Robert Herrera/Ismael Merino (ETSU) def. #70 Eric Diaz/Nathan Pasha (UGA) 6-4
3. Wayne Montgomery/Paul Oosterbaan (UGA) def. Conner Huertas/Diego Nunez (ETSU) 7-5
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (2,3,4,1,5,7,6,8)
Saturday, March 21 at UNC Greensboro* - 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 22 at Wofford* - 1:00 p.m.
*Southern Conference match
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