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Bucs cruise past Stetson, 4-0, to win fourth A-Sun title
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Second-seeded Bucs beat No. 4 Stetson, 4-0, to earn third A-Sun title in six years and fourth overall
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (April 20, 2014) – Just a few hours after the ETSU men’s squad clinched an A-Sun tournament title, the ETSU women’s tennis team joined the celebration, beating Stetson, 4-0, Sunday afternoon to take home the program’s fourth Atlantic Sun Women’s Tennis Championship title.
The second-seeded Buccaneers (14-8) squared off with fourth-seeded Stetson following the Hatters' (18-6) upset victory over No. 1 North Florida earlier in the day. After finishing runners-up the past two seasons, ETSU came away victorious in the title match, defeating the Hatters, 4-0.
“Being so close the last few years, we didn’t want to let another opportunity slip away,” ETSU coach Travis Sandlant said. “It wasn’t a particularly injury-free season. Considering that, and the difficult schedule we played, I think this is a testament to the girls more than anything. Their willingness to be in our system, work hard, and have the desire to take the next step helped them come through in the big matches when it counted most.”
Sophomores Lyn Yee Choo (Kuching, Malaysia) and Ana Gerbasi (Caracas, Venezuela) got ETSU off to a solid start, teaming up to knock off Stetson’s Diana Bukajeva and MB Stauffer MacDowell, 8-4, at No. 1 doubles.
The Bucs’ No. 2 doubles tandem of Sofia Espana (Mexico City, Mexico) and Salma Dahbi (Marrakech, Morocco) then made a vehement comeback, responding from a 4-0 deficit to beat Andrea Crespo and Isabella Fernandez, 8-7 (7-3) to seal the doubles point for ETSU.
Espana carried the momentum from the come-from-behind doubles win into her No. 4 singles contest, convincingly beating Stauffer MacDowell, 6-1, 6-1, to give the Bucs’ a 2-0 lead in the match. Gerbasi then followed suit at No. 2 singles, defeating Crespo, 6-3, 6-2, to put ETSU just one point away from capturing the championship title.
After winning the first set, 6-1, Choo put the finishing touches on the Bucs’ championship run, earning a 6-4 second-set victory to knock off reigning Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, Diana Bukajeva, at No. 1 singles.
Following the match, Choo was named the championship tournament MVP. Joining Choo on the All-Tournament squad were teammates Gerbasi and Giulia Andreazza (Balneario Camboriu, Brazil).
In the Bucs’ nine seasons in the Atlantic Sun Conference, ETSU has won four tournament titles and five regular season championships. This season marks ETSU’s last in the conference, as the Bucs will rejoin the Southern Conference next season, a league it was a part of from 1978-2005.
“I believe it is a sign that what we’re doing the right things as a coaching staff and athletic department—bringing in the right mix of girls and having the right system in place to help them improve and compete at the highest level they can,” Sandlant said. “I would like to thank everyone responsible for helping make this championship season possible—the training staff, athletic administration, media relations, academics, marketing, facilities, equipment, business and ticketing. It helps tremendously to have such great support across the department.”
The Bucs’ championship victory capped a watershed day for ETSU Tennis. Earlier in the day, the ETSU men’s squad knocked off UNF, 4-0, to win its eighth consecutive A-Sun tournament title.
“As a director, nothing makes me prouder,” ETSU Director of Tennis Yaser Zaatini said. “Ricky [Rojas] and Travis [Sandlant] both don’t get enough credit. Without them, this program would not be nearly as successful as it is.”
Rojas, Zaatini’s assistant on the men’s squad, and Sandlant have had a hand in virtually all of the two programs’ championship seasons in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Both coaches enjoyed successful playing careers at ETSU, with Sandlant playing a key role in the Bucs’ first A-Sun title in 2007, and Rojas helping ETSU to the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win in 2008.
Details for both the men’s and women’s teams regarding the upcoming NCAA Tournament will be released on ETSUBucs.com as information becomes available.
ETSU 4, Stetson 0
ETSU defeated FGCU, 4-1, in the tournament semifinals. View results from the match here.
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