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Championship season ends as Bucs fall in NCAA First Round
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Bucs' 76-day unbeaten streak snapped in NCAA First Round setback to No. 16 Columbia
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 10, 2014) - Riding an 11-match win streak, the ETSU men's tennis team went toe-to-toe with No. 16 Columbia in the opening round of the NCAA Championships in Nashville, Tenn., with the 68th-ranked Bucs suffering a narrow setback, closing the curtains on their 2014 championship campaign.
Upon the match's conclusion, the Buccaneers (14-9) enjoyed one-set leads in three of the six singles spots; however, losses at No. 3, 4, and 6 singles coupled with a narrow loss of the doubles point doomed ETSU, allowing Columbia to seal a 4-0 victory to advance to Sunday's second round.
The Lions (21-1), who extended their win streak to 19 matches, will vie against the winner of this afternoon's No. 19 Vanderbilt/No. 36 Virginia Tech match for a spot in the NCAA Championships' Round of 16. View the complete NCAA Men's Tennis Championship bracket here.
"I think we were playing extremely well, and we just came a little bit short," ETSU head coach Yaser Zaatini said. "The score shows 4-0, but our kids competed extremely well. We were up in three singles matches that could have gone our way and the doubles was extremely close. We are not strangers to the first round, but we got beat by a better team today."
The freshmen doubles duo of Diego Nunez (Monterrey, Mexico) and Ismael Merino (Lima, Peru) fought valiantly at the No. 1 spot, pushing 12th-ranked Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur to the brink before falling, 8-6. Second Team All-Atlantic Sun tandem, David Biosca (Sant Fruitos De Bage, Spain) and Roger Ordeig (Gurb, Spain), were knotted in a 6-6 deadlock at the No. 2 spot when Columbia clinched the doubles point with a win at No. 3.
In singles play, Biosca, Nunez, and Conner Huertas (Lima, Peru) were each up a set at the No. 1, 2, and 5 spots, respectively; however, the narrow doubles setback proved to be the difference. Columbia earned wins at No. 3, 4, and 6 singles to clinch the program's first ever NCAA Championships victory.
The loss was the Bucs' first setback since Feb. 23.
The freshmen-laden Bucs will return all but one player, senior Roger Ordeig. Over the past four seasons, Ordeig compiled a record of 29-3 in Atlantic Sun play, helping ETSU to four Atlantic Sun Championships and four trips to the NCAA Championships.
"I think his [Ordeig's] ethic as a person, his friendship, his leadership in doing the right things in practice and in the classroom is unmeasurable," Zaatini said. "When you talk about a human being and a contributor, he's a super hero."
Ordeig, the lone ETSU player who entered Saturday's match with playing experience in the NCAA Championships, leaves the program in excellence condition as it prepares to rejoin the Southern Conference for the 2014-15 athletic year.
"What we have to do is reconstruct, set the standards, and try to build on what Roger has left," Zaatini said. "From there, we can try to get in a position where we can come back to the NCAA tournament."
Prior to spending the last nine seasons in the Atlantic Sun Conference, ETSU was a member of the SoCon from 1978-2005. In their nine seasons in the A-Sun, the Bucs won eight league titles.
"Getting to the NCAA tournament is no easy task," Zaatini said. "We've been here eight times in a row, but it gets tougher because we're not catching anybody by surprise. You never know if you're going to get there again. That's why we try to teach these kids that they got here, but that next year is no guarantee.
"And, if by luck, we get back, we must have learned something from this season," Zaatini said. "That is the only way that we actually get better."
ETSU has twice picked up first-round wins in the NCAA Championship, beating No. 26 Notre Dame in 2008 and No. 32 Alabama in 2010.
#16 Columbia 4, #68 East Tennessee State 0
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