No. 1 ETSU heads back to A-Sun Championship final, eliminates No. 5 USC Upstate, 4-0

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bucs to play for sixth-consecutive A-Sun title

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 21, 2012) – The top-seeded ETSU men’s tennis team advanced to its sixth-consecutive A-Sun Championship final, progressing on by No. 5 USC Upstate 4-0 in Saturday’s semifinal at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center.

The Buccaneers were put to the test in doubles, splitting the first two sets before taking the early point on court two. ETSU’s young guns put it ahead 3-0 with one-sided victories at No. 5 and 6, before junior Juan Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay) punched the ticket to Sunday’s final by defeating Gonzalo Blanco 6-2, 6-3.

ETSU (13-8, 9-0 A-Sun) also extended its winning streak to 13-consecutive matches after starting the year at 0-8. The 72nd nationally ranked Buccaneers will take on the A-Sun’s No. 2 seed, North Florida in a run for ETSU’s sixth-consecutive title. The Ospreys defeated No. 3 Stetson 4-1 in the other semifinal, which took place at Milligan College.

USC Upstate (12-10, 4-5 A-Sun) will head back to Spartanburg, S.C., after competing in its first postseason since becoming Division I eligible. The Spartans earned their first A-Sun Tournament victory on Friday, defeating No. 4 Lipscomb 4-2 in the quarterfinal round.

"I think this was a solid start to the tournament for our team," Director of ETSU Tennis Yaser Zaatini said. "[USC Upstate] took care of Lipscomb pretty quickly yesterday, and we knew we were going to have our hands full. I think out team played a solid doubles match, and took it to them early in singles."

The Bucs got the semifinals rolling as A-Sun All-Freshman Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and junior Jesus Bandres (Caracas, Venezuela) easily put away Gonzalo Blanco and Jacob Darling 8-2 on court three. Ramiro Blanco and Matthias Kidler evened the series with their second-straight takedown of Sander Gille (Kuringen, Belgium) and Robin Akser (Ornskoldsvik, Sweden) 8-6. ETSU then notched the point in the No. 2 match with senior Jeremy Bonnevalle (Keerbergen, Belgium) and Ramirez earning the clincher against Yvon Haessig and Pierre Vernin 8-5.

Sophomore Roger Ordeig (Gurb, Spain) carried the Buccaneer momentum into singles, winning his match on court six with a dominating 6-0, 6-0 result against Darling. A-Sun All-Freshman Ribeiro followed up his undefeated regular season by taking down Vernin in straight sets 6-4, 6-1.

With ETSU a point away from its sixth-straight appearance in the A-Sun Championship final, Ramirez put away Gonzalo Blanco on court three 6-2, 6-3. Bandres on court one, Gille on two and Bonnevalle on four went unfinished against Ramiro Blanco, Kidler and Haessig, respectively. Bandres was up 2-1 in the third set, Gille up 5-3 in the second after dropping the first, and Bonnevalle led 6-4, 2-2.  

ETSU and North Florida are scheduled to play for the 2012 Atlantic Sun Championship trophy on Sunday at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center. First serve is scheduled for 10 a.m.

"It's going to be a 50-50 match," Zaatini commented. "North Florida is a great team. We get to play them at home this time, but they're tough no matter where you play them. I think it's great that our seniors will get another chance at the title."

For more information on ETSU men’s tennis, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s tennis links.

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