JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The East Tennessee State men’s tennis team ended its tenure in the Atlantic Sun Conference in familiar fashion Sunday — with a tournament title. The top-seeded Bucs captured their eighth consecutive A-Sun championship with a 4-0 victory over host school North Florida.
ETSU’s final A-Sun match — the Bucs will rejoin the Southern Conference next season — saw the league’s top two 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.”
The ETSU women also won the tournament with a 4-0 victory over Stetson in the final.
Freshman Ismael Merino was voted the tournament’s MVP, while teammates David Biosca and Diego Nunez joined him on the all-tournament team.
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. “To have several generations be a part of putting this run together—a dynasty that will forever live in the history books of the A-Sun—is unexplainable.”
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.
The Bucs’ lone senior, Roger Ordeig, won the match-clinching point, holding off Pablo Tellez at No. 6 singles, 6-0, 7-5,.
“To have Roger clinch the win and put his stamp on this tournament is glorious,” Zaatini said.