No. 72 men’s tennis prepares for clash of conference leaders against Radford

Monday, April 02, 2012

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 2, 2012) – Fresh off 7-0 victories against Lipscomb and Belmont, and solidifying its spot in the 2012 Atlantic Sun Championship, the No. 72 ETSU men’s tennis team will step out of the A-Sun for a Tuesday afternoon match against the top team out of the Big South Conference, Radford, at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center.

Tuesday’s contest is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m., and will be the Buccaneers’ final non-conference match of the regular season.

ETSU (8-8, 6-0 A-Sun) has reeled off eight-consecutive victories after starting the season at 0-8 to even its record at .500. The Bucs started the winning streak on Feb. 25 with a 6-1 win against Appalachian State, and have since defeated Tennessee Tech, Jacksonville, North Florida, then-No. 71 Stetson, FGCU, Lipscomb and Belmont. ETSU has also not dropped a single point through its last four wins.

Leading the Bucs through the spring season have been senior Sander Gille (Kuringen, Belgium), senior Jeremy Bonnevalle (Keerbergen, Belgium) and junior Juan Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay). The trio leads ETSU with 10 wins apiece through dual play, with Ramirez at 10-6 while Bonnevalle and Gille are each 10-5.

Bonnevalle also holds the team’s longest active win streak, having won his last nine matches. Gille, Ramirez and freshman Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) are not far behind, as each of the three are in the midst of eight-match streaks.

Radford (13-3, 5-0 Big South) enters Tuesday as winners of its last six matches dating back to a victory at then-No. 45 Portland on March 9. Since then, the Highlanders have won five-consecutive home matches against South Carolina State, Coastal Carolina, James Madison, Campbell and Winthrop.

The Highlanders’ only losses of the year have come against three ITA-ranked squads. On Jan. 16, Radford opened the season with a 5-2 loss to then-No. 74 North Florida, and lost back-to-back matches against then-No. 38 Oregon and then-No. 35 Boise State before defeating Portland to begin its current win streak.

Nicholas Sayer has been dominant for the Highlanders with a 13-1 dual record which includes his current 13-match winning streak. Sayer has played each of his 14 spring matches at the No. 1 position, and is 5-3 this year against nationally ranked singles competition.

Patrick O’Keefe is Radford’s other 13-match winner, holding a 13-3 record this spring with an 11-3 mark at the No. 6 and a 2-0 mark when playing at the No. 3.

During the fall, Ramirez defeated O’Keefe 6-3, 6-4 at the UVA Fall Classic. Bonnevalle also defeated a Highlander in Charlottesville, Va., taking down Igor Ogrizek in the same tournament 7-6, 6-3.

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