Six in a row! Men’s tennis completes perfect A-Sun season defeating UNF in championship, 4-1

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bandres named A-Sun Championship MVP

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 22, 2012) – The ETSU men’s tennis team entered the 2012 Atlantic Sun Championship as the No. 1 seed after going undefeated in conference play during the regular season, and capped off its sixth-consecutive title on Sunday with a 4-1 victory against second-seeded North Florida in the finals at the Bristol Racquet Club.

After seniors Sander Gille (Kuringen, Belgium) and Jeremy Bonnevalle (Keerbergen, Belgium) won at No. 2 and 4 singles, junior Jesus Bandres (Caracas, Venezuela) finished off the title run by rolling off his last three games at No. 1, defeating fellow First Team All-A-Sun selection Moritz Buerchner in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, as the celebration ensued. Bandres was then named the Championship’s MVP, with Gille and Bonnevalle being selected to the All-Tournament Team.

“This was so critical for our three seniors who have been a huge key to our success the last four years,” said Director of ETSU Tennis Yaser Zaatini, who has coached the team to all six of its A-Sun titles. “It’s only fitting for them to end their careers in the NCAA Tournament. It brings a lot of emotions to me because you do the best you can as a coach to give your kids all you can in order for them to succeed. These guys are fighters and I think they are going to take a huge chunk of me with them when they leave.”  

ETSU (14-8, 9-0 A-Sun) will now head to the NCAA Tournament on a 14-match winning streak which began on Feb. 25 against Appalachian State inside the very same building it capped off another A-Sun title. The Buccaneers were led by their senior trio of Gille, Bonnevalle and Robin Akser (Ornskoldsvik, Sweden), as Gille clinched the doubles point with Akser and won his singles match along with Bonnevalle.

“That’s the irony of tennis,” Zaatini added about the play of his senior class. “On Senior Day, Sander [Gille] and Jeremy [Bonnevalle] both lost and Robin [Akser] was unable to win his match in doubles. Today was completely the opposite. Sander and Robin ended up clinching the doubles and then Jeremy gave us a 2-1 lead before Sander put us up 3-1. It was only fitting that our No. 1 player, Jesus [Bandres], was able to clinch it."  

UNF’s (19-6, 8-1 A-Sun) first appearance in the conference finals ends with the loss. The 62nd-nationally ranked Ospreys only defeat during the A-Sun regular season came at the hands of ETSU, as they head back to Jacksonville, Fla. a match shy of the championship just as Stetson has done the five years prior.  

The 2012 Championship final began with all the excitement and intensity you could ask for. At No. 2 doubles, UNF’s Moritz Buerchner and Beauregard Treyz took a commanding 7-2 lead on ETSU’s duo of Juan Ramirez (Asuncion, Paraguay) and Bonnevalle, and withstood a mini-rally to take the first set of the series 8-5. Minutes later, Buccaneers Bandres and Rogerio Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) avenged their regular season loss to Leonardo Nahar and Pedro Davisson with an 8-4 set victory.

The split sets on courts two and three brought the Championship’s first point down to the No. 1 match between ETSU’s pairing of Gille and Akser against the Ospreys’ top duo of Norbert Nemcsek and Daniel Sotomarino. The two sides held serve all the way through until Gille and Akser broke UNF in the final game to take the set 8-6 and give ETSU a 1-0 lead on the day.

No. 1-4 singles took the courts to start the second portion, with ETSU carrying its momentum from doubles by taking the first set in three of the four matches. Ramirez was the lone Buccaneer to drop a set, and eventually succumbed to Nemcsek in the first completed match 6-3, 6-4.

From then on it was all ETSU. Bonnevalle won a key tiebreaker in his first set and put the Buccaneers back in front with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 downing of Davisson, while Gille was in a second-set tiebreak against Sotomarino. The Belgian senior gutted out the tiebreak 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) at the same moment Bandres broke Buerchner to take a 5-4 lead in the second set.

With a strong service game, Bandres got three first serves in to take the game at love before being mobbed by his teammates on the court.

"I saw Sander win the tiebreak as soon as I broke, so I knew it was going to be up to me," Bandres said. "I just tried to get all of my first serves in and play the game point-by-point. It felt so good to clinch the title for my team and for all the seniors."

For more information on ETSU tennis, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the tennis links.

Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team  
Jesus Bandres – ETSU (Tournament MVP)
Sander Gille – ETSU
Jeremy Bonnevalle – ETSU
Moritz Buerchner – UNF
Danile Sotomarino – UNF
Ramiro Blanco – USC Upstate
Maksim Levanovich – Stetson
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