MACON, Ga. (April 12, 2019) – The ETSU Buccaneers Men’s Tennis team clinched at least a share of the 2019 Southern Conference Regular Season Title on Friday afternoon in Macon, Ga. after a 4-3 victory over the Mercer Bears. The Bucs did what champions do, winning the close battles when it comes down to the wire after clinching the match in the final singles contest. The 4-3 victory was the closest SoCon match of the season for the Bucs and the first 4-3 victory since defeating Fresno State by the same score earlier this season on Feb. 16.
The match began with Sergi Fontcuberta (Barcelona, Spain) and David Gonzalez (Barcelona, Spain) cruising to a 6-3 victory in the No. 3 doubles position. The advantage for the doubles point was even at one after Mercer claimed a 6-4 victory in the top slot, setting up a dramatic finish in doubles play. It appeared that the doubles contest would be the indicator of how close the match would be down the stretch as Miguel Este (Caracas, Venezuela) and Chris Mikrovas (Athens, Greece) pulled away at the end for the 7-5 triumph, putting the Bucs ahead 1-0.
The Bears evened the match at one apiece after Olivier Stuart, ranked No. 112 in the ITA Top 125, ended Frazier Rengifo’s (Cali, Colombia) winning streak with a 6-1, 6-0 victory in the top slot. Este briefly put the Bucs back on top with a straight-set victory over Sachin Khurana, 6-2, 6-2. However, Mercer evened things up for the second time in the match as Nicolas Guillon handed Fontcuberta a 6-2, 6-2 victory of his own to square the match at 2-2 with three singles contests left.
Juan Lugo (Maracay, Venezuela) pulled ETSU within one point of walking out of Macon with a SoCon Title after upending Stathis Tsiranidis from the No. 3 slot, 6-4, 6-3 for his 11th singles win this spring. The Bears would not go away quietly as shortly after Lugo’s victory, Mercer’s David Georgadze picked up a 6-4, 6-4 win over Gonzalez in the fifth singles spot to set up a nail-biting finish for the match.
The final point came down to the No. 4 singles position as Yusuf Khamis (Cairo, Egypt) was locked in a tight contest with Carver Arant. Khamis claimed the first set by the final of 7-5 with the two competitors proving to match each other. Neither side could pull away from each other in the second set, squaring the frame at 6-6 to force a tiebreaker. As proven with much of their match, nobody could gain any separation early in the tiebreak. However, it was Khamis who elevated his game down the stretch, pulling away from Arant in the end with a 7-5 victory in the tiebreak, claiming the match and a share of the SoCon Regular Season Title. Khamis’ 7-5, 7-6(7-5) victory was his 12th consecutive win, improving to 16-2 on the campaign.
ETSU will host The Citadel on Saturday, April 13 at 3 p.m. at the Dave Mullins Tennis Complex. Saturday’s match will serve as Senior Day for the Bucs as ETSU will look to claim the SoCon Regular Season Title outright.
Match Notes: ETSU 16-4, 6-0, Mercer 10-13, 3-3
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (1,6,2,3,5,4)
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