Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Is this Year “Next Year” For Stetson Men’s Tennis?
The Stetson Hatters know heartbreak like very few do.
For the past four seasons the Hatters have made the final of the Atlantic Sun Men’s Tennis Championship and lost. It brings to mind the Buffalo Bills of the NFL falling four times in the Super Bowl or the Boston College men’s hockey team dropping back-to-back NCAA title games, but unlike the Bills, the Eagles finally got their title on try number three.
In 2006, No. 2 seeded Stetson made it all the way to the finals and faced Belmont on neutral ground in Macon, Ga. The No. 4 seeded Bruins refused to be denied and earned the upset victory against the Hatters who started a run of woe few could have predicted.
Men’s tennis powerhouse ETSU continues to be the thorn in the side of the Hatters. The Bucs have been the dominate force in the A-Sun, having never lost a regular season conference contest.
In 2007 ETSU swept the Hatters to their second consecutive loss in the conference championships. ETSU played like a team on a mission in 2007 and 2008 failing to lose on conference match and not dropping a single point in either A-Sun championship.
After another promising run in 2009, it looked like the Hatters would finally get their chance to hold the A-Sun title. However, fate had other plans as an upset attempt by of ETSU’s Enrique Olivares by Stetson’s Filip Kricka failed and Sander Gille took down Mark Mestan, 6-4, 6-2. Maksim Levanovich grabbed a singles win against ETSU’s Grega Teraz, but it would not be enough and for the fourth consecutive season, Stetson return to Deland hat in hand.
Stetson continues to wait for its Boston College moment for all the pain to pay off in a title. However, hopes springs eternal for the Hatters and the folks in DeLand have reason to hope as in 2010 the men’s tennis championship heads to their campus and on their courts.
The past three seasons it has been the Hatters making the 852 mile journey to Johnson City, Tenn., for the A-Sun championships and now it is the Bucs turn. ETSU travels to Stetson this season and will need to defeat the Hatters on their home court in the Florida sun to claim the conference crown.
Following a rain out against No. 21 Miami, Stetson opened the season with a dominate victory against Bethune-Cookman in which six players scored straight-set wins. Cesare Gallo opened the season ranked at No. 15 in singles in the ITA Southeast Region poll. Maksim Levanovich, Gallo’s doubles partner, returns after assisting in the pair’s 21 wins in 25 doubles contests a season ago.
Stetson will continue to battle and hope this is the year, but if not, there is always next year ….
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