JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 20, 2017) – The ETSU women’s tennis team will open its 2017 schedule with a trip to Blacksburg, Va. where the Bucs will compete in a two-day round robin tournament with Virginia Tech and Troy on January 21-22.
Following a successful 2015-16 season, the Bucs look to continue their momentum with a pair matches this weekend. Last year, ETSU finished the season 20-3 with its only losses coming from Furman, No. 66 Winthrop and No. 3 North Carolina. The Blue and Gold cruised through the SoCon Tournament as the team swept Mercer, Chattanooga and Samford 4-0 to claim its first crown since 2014. The Bucs traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C. where they were matched with No. 3 North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. However, ETSU dropped the contest 4-0 for only its third loss of the season.
The Bucs return several key players this season including: Ioanna Markesini (Athens, Greece), Marina Espana (Castellar Del Valles, Spain) and Melissa Esguerra (Derrimutt, Australia). Announced a week ago, Markesini was ranked No. 95 by the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) in singles tennis. The Greece native went 16-3 in singles last year, which was tied for the second-most wins on the team. Markesini and Espana were the team’s winningest doubles tandem last year where they went 17-3 to lead the Blue and Gold. Espana went a perfect 19-0 last year while mainly playing as the No. 4 in singles. Esguerra nearly went perfect as she finished the season 16-1 including going 7-0 in the Southern Conference.
Scouting the Hokies
At the conclusion of the 2016 season, the Hokies were ranked 38th in the final ITA ranking. Virginia Tech completed the season 14-11 and 7-7 in ACC play. The Hokies opened their schedule last year 2-0 after defeating Radford 7-0 and SoCon foe Western Carolina 6-1.
The Hokies made it to the NCAA Tournament last year but were upended early by Mississippi State, 4-0.
Virginia Tech returns its top player Francesca Fusinato who was ranked in the singles ITA rankings 10 out of the 11 weeks last year. She achieved her highest rank of 41st in the second week of the season. Elena Cerezo-Codina had a strong sophomore season as she was ranked in the singles ITA rankings four times with her highest rank being 95th.
The Trojans, who went 12-9 last year, made a run in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament after defeating Georgia Southern in the opening round 4-1, but they fell in the semifinals to ranked Georgia State, 4-0. Troy opened its 2015-16 season going 5-2, but it finished the season with a 1-4 record.
Troy has a very experienced lineup with five of the seven players being juniors or seniors. To lead the Trojans is the Lebanon native, Nancy Karaky. She went 20-9 in singles play while going 19-11 in doubles matches last year. Teammate and fellow junior, Sanae Ohta, had a strong season last year as she went 19-10 in singles and doubles play.
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