Men's tennis wins eighth straight A-Sun title
The ETSU men's tennis team concluded its tenure in the Atlantic Sun Conference in familiar fashion: with a tournament title. The top-seeded Buccaneers overcame No. 2 UNF, 4-0, on the Ospreys' home court Sunday afternoon, clinching ETSU's eighth consecutive A-Sun tournament championship.
ETSU's final Atlantic Sun match in program history - the Bucs will rejoin the Southern Conference next season - saw the league's two nationally-ranked squads, go toe-to-toe in the tournament final for the third straight season. And for the third straight season, the Bucs (14-8) prevailed.
"It's going to be sad to leave a conference where we've seen such growth," ETSU head coach Yaser Zaatini said. "However, if we had to pick a way to leave, we could not have written the script any better."
Faced with the difficult task of dispatching the Ospreys (14-10) on their home court at the UNF Tennis Complex, the freshmen-laden Bucs met the challenge with fearless resolve, beginning the day by winning the doubles point to take an early 1-0 lead.
After UNF won at the No. 1 doubles spot, the Bucs responded by notching victories at No. 3 and No. 2 doubles, respectively.
Sophomore Sebastian Yllera and freshman Conner Huertas took down the Ospreys' Bernard Craveiro and Pablo Tellez, 8-3 at the No. 3 position, before senior Roger Ordeig and freshman David Biosca teamed up to win, 8-6, at the No. 2 spot.
Spurred by the doubles wins, ETSU came out strongly in singles competition, with freshman Ismael Merino handily beating Craveiro at No. 4 singles, 6-0, 6-1.
Fellow freshman Diego Nunez followed suit at No. 2, defeating Norbert Nemcsek, 6-4, 6-3, to put the Bucs ahead in the match, 3-0, and just a single point away from continuing their streak of tournament titles.
Following the match, Biosca, Nunez, and Merino were each named to the Atlantic Sun Men's Tennis Championship All-Tournament Team, with Merino taking home Tournament MVP honors.
During its nine seasons in the Atlantic Sun, ETSU captured eight tournament championships and seven regular season titles.
"We began A-Sun play with a regular season win in 2006, and to go out as tournament champions eight years later is quite impressive," Zaatini said.
Sunday's victory extended the Bucs' season-best win streak to 11 matches. ETSU has not suffered a setback since Feb. 23 - a span of 57 days - making it the longest win streak since the Bucs won 18 straight matches in 2008 (84 days) en route to advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
ETSU has earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament 11 times in the last 13 years. In 2008, the Bucs knocked off No. 26 Notre Dame, 4-2. Two years later, ETSU defeated No. 32 Alabama, 4-2.
Shortly after the Bucs' clinched their eighth consecutive A-Sun tournament title, the ETSU women's tennis team joined the celebration, winning the Atlantic Sun Women's Championship title.
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