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Bucs down Furman to win SoCon crown, notch NCAA Tournament berth
GREENVILLE, S.C. (April 26, 2015) - After a decade-long hiatus from the Southern Conference, ETSU picked up where it last left off by taking home the SoCon Men's Tennis Championship title.
The Buccaneers (17-7) defeated Furman, 4-0, Sunday on the Paladins' (10-16) home court to earn ETSU's ninth-consecutive league tournament title and NCAA Championship Tournament berth. In 2005, the Bucs' last season in the SoCon before departing for the Atlantic Sun Conference, ETSU won the tournament championship, as well.
ETSU has clinched an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament each year since 2007.
"It is just that mentality of wanting to keep the tradition going," ETSU head coach Yaser Zaatini said. "Nine is my favorite number, so to get to this point is a little bit surreal."
"We prepare and understand that we have a solid team—a group of hard fighters who don't give up—but to be able to put in work day in and day out and pull out the championship is like a dream."
The top-seeded Bucs, who won the SoCon regular season title, as well, captured the doubles point to begin Sunday's title match versus second-seeded Furman.
Furman's Adam Steryous and Cameron Green started off doubles play with a win at No. 2, forcing the Bucs to win the remaining two positions. ETSU rose to the occassion.
Conner Huertas (Lima, Peru) and Diego Nunez (Monterrey, Mexico) came from a break down to pull out a tightly-contested match at No. 3, 8-6, before co-captain Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and David Biosca (Sant Fruitos de Bage, Spain) clinched the doubles point with an 8-6 victory at the top spot.
"I believe today—better than any day—we played as a team," Zaatini said. "Today, we had a couple of our rocks lose, so to have the other guys step up and win it was huge. No. 1 and No. 3 Doubles came through, which allowed us to carry that confidence into singles play."
Following the narrow doubles wins, ETSU ascerted control of the match to quiet Furman's lively home crowd. When the Bucs clinched the 4-0 victory, ETSU was trailing at only one spot.
"Great teams always play their best when it matters most," ETSU assistant coach Ricky Rojas said. "We played great. I am proud of this team!"
Rogerio extended the Bucs' lead to 2-0 with a 6-3, 6-3 victory at No. 2 Singles, while Ismael Merino (Lima, Peru) followed suit by winning at No. 6, 7-6, 6-1, to bring the Bucs within one singles win of clinching the championship.
Nunez's 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 3 was the clincher, allowing ETSU to add an 18th tournament championship trophy to the program's collection.
Following the conclusion of the match, Biosca was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
For the ninth-straight season, ETSU will be making a trip to the NCAA Championship Tournament.
The pairings for the national tournament will be announced Tuesday, April 28 at 5:30 p.m., on NCAA.com.
ETSU 4, Furman 0
1. Adam Steryous (FUR) vs. David Biosca (ETSU) 1-6, 4-5, unfinished
2. Rogerio Ribeiro (ETSU) def. Matt Browne (FUR) 6-3, 6-3
3. Diego Nunez (ETSU) def. Cameron Green (FUR) 6-4, 6-4
4. Ben Horst (FUR) vs. Conner Huertas (ETSU) 7-5, 4-3, unfinished
5. Jacob Behal (FUR) vs. Robert Herrera (ETSU) 6-4, 3-6, 1-2, unfinished
6. Ismael Merino (ETSU) def. Juan Sheppard (FUR) 7-6, 6-1
1. David Biosca/Rogerio Ribeiro (ETSU) def. Matt Browne/Ben Horst (FUR) 8-6
2. Adam Steryous/Cameron Green (FUR) def. Ismael Merino/Robert Herrera (ETSU) 8-6
3. Diego Nunez/Conner Huertas (ETSU) def. Jacob Behal/Juan Sheppard (FUR) 8-6
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (2,6,3)
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