MACON, Ga. – A matchup between No. 4 Campbell and No. 5 Jacksonville at 9 a.m. Thursday began the first round of tournament play in the A-Sun Men’s Tennis Championship from the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center on the campus of Stetson University.
Head coach Shane Wood’s squad finished the regular season with a 9-11 overall mark and a 4-6 tally in conference play. Victor Vaz paced the Dolphins during regular season play in the No. 1 position for all but two matches. At the start of conference play, the Campinas, Brazil native won eight matches in a row, including victories versus such league foes in FGCU, Belmont, Lipscomb, Mercer and Kennesaw State. Nine of Vaz’s 15 wins this season have come in straight sets.
“We had a nice year,” Wood said. “We played with a lot of young players and a lot of freshman, especially with Victor getting to move up and play at No. 1 from his normal spot at No. 3 and 4. He has had a fantastic year and been a great leader for us. It’s always nice to represent your university and your city. We’ve enjoyed it so far.”
Hector Garcia Aguilar and Jose Fantova earned Atlantic Sun All-Freshmen Team honors as both have had spectacular rookie seasons with the Dolphins.
Fantova provided strong support to Vaz in the No. 2 spot. The Ferroe, Spain native had a ten match winning streak in singles play in the middle of the season, including eight straight-set wins. Fantova’s conference wins have come against FGCU, Belmont, Lipscomb, Kennesaw State, Campbell and Stetson. Garcia Aguilar took seven of his 11 wins in straight sets while closing the season out on a 5-2 run. In conference play, the Mexico City, Mexico native defeated Mercer, FGCU, Belmont, Lipscomb, Kennesaw State and Campbell.
“Jose and Hector stepped in as true freshman and played No., 2 and No. 3 singles and have had positive results and won some really good matches,” Wood said. “We were a little nervous about playing freshman in such key positions, but they have done a great job.”
Providing a win against the Camels, the Dolphins will be faced with the pressure of the No. 1 ETSU Buccaneers. The three-time defending conference tournament champions finished regular season play with an overall record of 13-7 and A-Sun tally of 9-1. Sander Gille leads ETSU with a 14-6 dual match record as the Keerbergen, Belgium native has posted wins against players from eight nationally ranked teams. Gille also leads ETSU in doubles wins and stands unbeaten in A-Sun action (10-0). The sophomore business major defeated No. 1 players from USC Upstate, Stetson, UNF, Belmont and Lipscomb and competed in the prestigious ITA All-American last fall. Gille lost only one set in A-Sun play the entire season.
You know in a tournament like this you are going to have to beat the best,” Wood said. “ETSU has set a high standard and certainly the standard runs through their place. You know you are going to certainly going to have to see them at one point. We would love to play them.
“We need to play well throughout the lineup, especially if you do not get the doubles point then the pressure is on every court,” Wood said. “Our Nos. 1, 2 and 3 do need to carry a lot of the load and a lot of the burden, but we will see.”
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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun stands for achievement with integrity in both the academic and athletic arenas, with a focus on the balance between the two for our student-athletes. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.