ATLANTA (Feb. 9, 2014) – Wrapping up a road trip that consisted of three matches in three days, and two matches against nationally-ranked opponents, the ETSU men’s tennis team upset No. 61 Wichita State Sunday, 4-1. The win marks the Buccaneers second victory this season over a ranked opponent. ETSU defeated No. 58 Yale in New Haven, Conn., earlier this month.
The Buccaneers (3-7) entered Sunday’s match-up with Wichita State on the heels of a pair of losses to No. 4 Georgia and Georgia State; however, the freshmen-laden ETSU squad came out firing on all cylinders against the Shockers (2-4), taking the doubles point and winning three singles points.
“Some kind of spark happened today,” ETSU assistant coach Ricky Rojas said following the win.
Head coach Yaser Zaatini echoed Rojas, emphasizing the importance of the young squad remaining focused on playing high-quality tennis.
“We need to keep this spark lit,” Zaatini said. “I want that spark to be daily. We need to play high-percentage tennis and be consistent, smart, and gutty. We’re a young team. When you’re young, you sometimes have a tendency to not understand how important it is to compete. If you rely exclusively on talent, you get into issues.”
Led by freshmen David Biosca (Sant Fruitos De Bage, Spain) and Ismael Merino (Lima, Peru), the 67th-ranked Bucs stunned the Shockers, taking three singles matches and two doubles matches in straight sets.
“We have gotten a lot of leadership from David [Biosca] and Ismael [Merino],” Zaatini said. “With it being their first year playing and competing, it’s pretty amazing what they are doing.”
Biosca and Merino won at No. 1 and No. 4 singles, respectively. Meanwhile, teammate Ricardo Pabon (Bogota, Columbia) came away with a win at No. 6 singles and paired with freshman Conner Huertas Del Pino (Lima, Peru) to win at No. 3 doubles.
Eight of the Bucs’ first 10 matches this season have come against nationally-ranked opponents, including road matches against No. 4 Georgia, No. 6 Tennessee, and No. 19 Wake Forest.
“They are inexperienced kids, and have been thrown into the wolves,” Zaatini said. “It has been a rude awakening, but we are ETSU—we have a tradition—we don’t fear the big guys. The same way our opponents may use us, thinking we are a weaker match, I use to prove that we are good enough.”
ETSU will continue its difficult non-conference schedule as it takes on No. 47 Elon Saturday, Feb. 22 and UNC-Wilmington Sunday, Feb. 23.
“We now have two ranked wins under our belt,” Zaatini said. “I have been disappointed in certain things, but I’m extremely proud of the way that I put these guys through hell and they are responding. I am not satisfied. We still need to change, but I think that we are building champions.”
The Bucs' matches against Elon and UNC-Wilmington will conclude a season-opening stretch of 12 consecutive road matches. ETSU will host Appalachian State in its home opener Tuesday, March 4.
#67 ETSU 4, #61 Wichita State 1
1. David Biosca (ETSU) def. Illija Cuic (WSU) 6-3, 6-5
2. Diego Nunez (ETSU) vs. Tin Ostojic (WSU) 6-5, 2-6, 2-2, unfinished
3. Tomislav Gregurovic (WSU) def. Conner Huertas (ETSU) 6-4, 6-4
4. Ismael Merino (ETSU) def. Guillermo Nicol (WSU) 6-5, 6-2
5. Roger Ordeig (ETSU) vs. Guillermo de Vilchez (WSU) 6-4, 5-4, unfinished
6. Ricardo Pabon (ETSU) def. Jocelyn Devilliers (WSU) 6-4, 6-5
1. Ismael Merino/Diego Nunez (ETSU) def. Tomislav Gregurovic/Tin Ostojic (WSU) 6-4
2. David Biosca/Roger Ordeig (ETSU) vs. Illija Cuic/Jocelyn Devilliers (WSU) 5-3, unfinished
3. Ricardo Pabon/Conner Huertas (ETSU) def. Guillermo Nicol/Guillermo de Vilchez (WSU) 6-4