ETSU lose heartbreaker to CSU

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY-- Like the Michelin commercial where the Michelin man cries over the tire being removed from his possession, the ETSU men's tennis team felt a similar sadness after suffering a heartbreaking defeat on Saturday.
   The Bucs went down to the wire with Charleston Southern, but eventually lost 4-3 in non-conference action.
   ETSU had its work cut out after losing two doubles matches, which gave the one doubles point to Charleston Southern.
   This meant ETSU had to win four of the six singles matches over Charleston Southern, who are also called the Buccaneers.
   "We were just down too far," ETSU head coach Dave Mullins said. "It's hard to win four matches in a row when you don't have any momentum. We were way down, and we just had to come back from too far. I think the guys battled, we just came up a little bit short."
   The match wasn't over until early evening, as ETSU needed Alejandro Salazar and Marcos Pavlovich to win their matches.
   Salazar pulled his match out over Saufaine Rechag 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, but Pavlovich eventually fell to Thomas Miho 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to seal the deal for Charleston Southern.
   Mullins didn't think that Pavlovich's loss cost ETSU the match. He pointed to losing the doubles point as what cost the Buccaneers a chance for victory.
   "We've been playing better doubles," Mullins said. "We were a little flat emotionally today in the doubles. We just couldn't play as sharp as we've been playing. That turned out to be the difference in the match. That got us off to a bad start, and we got down 3-0. It was just too far to come back."
   ETSU's fourth, fifth and sixth seeds were the only winners for the home team Saturday. Diego Iglesias and Moises Serrano joined Salazar in the win column.
   Iglesias defeated Zalan Kiss 6-3, 6-0, while Serrano knocked off Ariel Fufuro 7-6, 6-0.
   ETSU, ranked 53rd in the country, definitely lost to a tough team on Saturday.
   "They're good," Mullins said. "They've won the Big South Conference the last three years, and have been to the NCAA's the last three years. They've got a good solid team, but you've got to beat them. They're not going to give you anything, and we just had guys that didn't get the job done today.
   Appalachian State 5
   ETSU 2
   The ETSU women didn't fare much better, as the Lady Mountaineers pounded the Lady Bucs.
   It's been a rough season for the ETSU women, but head coach Steve Brooks hopes Saturday can be a learning experience.
   "We had some real good things happen," Brooks said. "We've had a really tough season. I've scheduled it tough because it's a rebuilding year and we're all young. We need to learn as much as we can this year, so next year hopefully if I can bring in some good recruits, we'll be really tough against anyone we play."
   ETSU's two victories came from Jessica Irey and Gemma Halim. Irey defeated Elena Berger 6-4, 7-6 (7-5 in tiebreak), and Halim knocked off Kasis Finkowska 6-3, 6-3.
   "That's two very good wins in a row," Brooks said about Irey. "She's starting to find herself. If there are no injuries, she's going to be a tough player for the rest of the season."
   Brooks was also pleased with Halim's performance.
   "Gemma just came in January," Brooks said. "She came from Indonesia, and she never had this much competition before. The first couple of months was a learning experience, but now she's starting to feel comfortable on the court. When you're comfortable, you can make the shots.
   The Lady Bucs fall to 1-12 on the year going into today's match with Dayton. Brooks believes the team, which includes former Elizabethton High standout Heather Jones, is getting better.
   "We're improving daily and weekly," Brooks said. "We're playing every team much better, which is good."