MTSU Loses Both Matches on Florida Road Trip to End Season


Victor Hoang, a senior exchange student from Mississauga, Ontario, plays at the match against Jackson State on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. (MTSU Sidelines/Grant Massey)

TAMPA, Fla. – Middle Tennessee ended its 2015 regular season with back-to-back losses against Central Florida and No. 19 South Florida.

With the two losses, the Blue Raiders (13-12) finished just above .500 on the season.

MTSU started the weekend in Orlando on Friday with a match against UCF.

UCF Match

The match ended up being very tight, but MTSU didn’t start off very well.

In doubles play, the Knights (15-9) recorded two easy wins to take the point there. At the No. 3 spot, Ettore Zito and Dima Zyhmantovich saw their six-match winning streak ended in a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Francesc Aulina and Tyler Pate.

Yannick Born and Miguel Fernandez evened things up at No. 2, turning back Mariano Porter and Flores 6-1.

The Knights took the decisive match at No. 1, as Chris Barrus and Inaki Espindola thumped Victor Hoang and Ben Davis 6-2. This gave UCF the 1-0 advantage.

Singles play saw no shortage of close matches.

It looked as if UCF was going to end this one early, as the Knights came out and took the first two singles matches. Espindola beat Born 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 3 spot. UCF’s Porter then notched a 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 5 over Zyhmantovich, giving UCF a commanding 3-0 lead.

However, MTSU put together a ferocious rally to get back in the match. Gian Issa earned a 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 win over Barrus at No. 4 to get the Blue Raiders on the board.

Zito continued the rally, picking up a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 win at the No. 2 court over Jose Sangroniz. Davis tied the match with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 win at No. 1 over Aulina. The win extended Davis’ singles winning streak to five-straight matches.

With the match tied up at three apiece, it al came down to No. 6. The match at No. 6 between MTSU’s Robin Riethmueller and UCF’s Jesse Flores needed all three sets to decide a winner. Riethmueller took the first set 6-4, however, Flores evened the match up with a 6-2 win in the second set. Flores proved to be too much though, taking the third set 6-1, giving UCF the 4-3 match victory.

After the loss, MTSU headed to Tampa to take on No. 19 USF Sunday.

USF Match

MTSU was looking for its first win against a ranked opponent this season, but No. 19 USF (18-6) turned the Blue Raiders back in shutout fashion Sunday.

The Bulls scored two quick wins in doubles play to take the point there. At No. 3, Vadym Kalyuzhnyy and Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz tallied a 6-2 win over Zito and Zyhmantovich.

Roberto Cid and Sasha Gozun finished off MTSU in doubles play, winning 6-4 at the No. 2 spot over Born and Fernandez.

Singles play was even rougher for MTSU. The Blue Raiders were no match for USF’s talented netters.

Cid took down Zito 6-1, 6-2 at the No. 1 court. Justin Roberts was just as impressive at No. 6, beating Fernandez 6-1, 6-3.

Kalyuzhnyy completed the sweep for the Bulls, as he picked up a 6-2, 6-2 win over Hoang at No. 5. USF won the match, 4-0.

The Blue Raiders finished the season 0-11 against ranked opponents. Only one of their losses this season came against a non-ranked opponent.

They also finished the season 11-4 at home.

Middle Tennessee will now prepare itself for the Conference USA Championship. MTSU is still awaiting its seeding. The tournament gets underway on Friday in Norfolk, Va.

For more Blue Raiders sports, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Sport.

To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email sports@mtsusidelines.com or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.

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