Bucs fight but fall, 4-0, to Vanderbilt in NCAA Tournament
Bandres (above) competing in Friday's NCAA Tournament in Nashville.
Bandres (above) competing in Friday's NCAA Tournament in Nashville.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Championship season ends in NCAA First Round

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 10, 2013) – The ETSU men’s tennis team saw its season come to an end on Friday evening as it was defeated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 4-0, by No. 16 overall seed Vanderbilt from the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville.

ETSU (13-7) played with fight, toughness and passion from the onset, but regional host Vanderbilt (17-10) proved too much on its home court. The Commodores advance to play Illinois in the regional final on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Illini defeated Georgia State, 4-0, earlier in the day.

“The guys fought from the beginning and never stopped. It was an incredibly tough match and I’m extremely proud of the effort,” Director of ETSU Tennis Yaser Zaatini said. “[Vanderbilt] got on top of us early at doubles one and three, and they took us at number one and six singles pretty early. The guys stayed in it until the end and never gave up.”

The Commodores took 3-0 leads at No. 1 and 3 doubles to get the match started around 4:15 p.m., ET. Inclement weather pushed the start time of the day’s first match between Illinois and GSU about an hour back from its original schedule, affecting ETSU and Vanderbilt’s first serve as well. Showing the fight it showed the entire way, ETSU’s Juan Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay) and Jorge Varon (Valencia, Venezuela) stayed competitive and fought to bring the No. 2 doubles match to a 7-3 advantage.

Unfortunately for the Buccaneer duo, the set would never be finished. Suresh Eswaran and Jeff Offerdahl made it by Roger Ordeig (Gurb, Spain) and Ricardo Pabon (Bogota, Colombia) fairly quickly, 8-1, before Ryan Lipman and Gonzales Austin closed out the doubles point, 8-3, on the top court over Jesus Bandres (Caracas, Venezuela) and Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil).

Vandy pushed its lead to 3-0 with a pair of convincing victories on courts one and six. Pabon led Rhys Johnson 4-2 in the opening set on the lower court, but Johnson escaped the set with the next four games and cruised in the second set for the first singles victory, 6-4, 6-1. Johnson won by taking 10 of the match’s final 11 games.

On the top court, Bandres had the challenge of taking on the No. 10 singles player in all of college tennis, Lipman. Bandres proved earlier in the year he can compete with the nation’s best by defeating UGA’s then-No. 21 Nathan Pasha, but it was not to be on Friday. Lipman and Bandres contested some long games, but Lipman was able to take most of them and go on to win, 6-2, 6-1, to put the Commodores a point from victory.

The advancement into the second round did not come so easily. Ordeig trailed 5-3 in a second set after dropping his opener to Marc van der Merwe, but fought back to save match and force a second-set tiebreak. Ramirez battled back on court three, taking his second set after trailing and facing elimination against Offerdahl. On court four, Varon fought out a first set tiebreak, 7-6 (7-5), and led his second set against Kris Yee.

“I think Jorge played his best match of the year,” said Zaatini on the fight of his junior. “He had been struggling most of the year, but he fought hard and played with passion today.”

Where the Commodores eventually sealed the match was on court two. Austin – No. 46 in the ITA singles rankings – dropped his first set to Ribeiro, but then won 12 of the match’s final 14 games to take the win and advance the regional host to the second round, 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.

“I hate for our two seniors to leave on a loss, but I’m proud of their instilled tradition and to be part of what we’re trying to build at ETSU,” added Zaatini on Bandres and Ramireaz. “They will be incredibly missed. They are great kids, are great to be around and will always be part of the ETSU family. They’ve been through so many great experiences and learned so much about life in general.”

The Buccaneers fall to 2-11 in NCAA Tournament play.

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