MTSU Drops Pair of Matches to Start Classic

Ettore Zito, senior at MTSU, at the match against Jackson State on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. Zito is an exchange student from Siracusa, Sicily. (MTSU Sidelines/Grant Massey)

SAN DIEGO – Middle Tennessee (9-7) dropped its first two matches in the Hilton San Diego Mission Spring Classic Thursday and Friday.

The Blue Raiders opened up play in the Classic squaring off against Harvard, ranked No. 22 in the nation, Thursday afternoon.

The Crimson opened up play scoring the doubles point over the Blue Raiders. Yannick Born and partner Gian Issa put up a tough fight at No. 1 doubles, but fell 6-4 to Harvard’s 10th-ranked doubles pair of Brian Yeung and Denis Nguyen. Harvard finished off the doubles point, defeating the pair of Robin Riethmueller and Miguel Fernandez 6-3.

MTSU faced a 1-0 deficit heading to singles play.

At No. 3 singles, Born put forth a valiant effort, but fell in straight sets to the Crimson’s Kenny Tao 6-3, 6-2.

Fernandez, playing at No. 4 singles, battled in the first set but could not find his rhythm, losing in straight sets to Harvard’s Alex Steinroeder 6-4, 6-1.

Riethmueller played No. 5 singles for the Blue Raiders, falling in straight sets to Harvard’s Yeung, sealing the match for the Crimson 6-4, 6-2. The Crimson finished the day with the win, 4-0, over Middle Tennessee.

Ettore Zito, playing No. 1 singles for the Blue Raiders won the first set over 47th-ranked Nguyen before the match went unfinished.

Losing their first match of the Classic, the Blue Raiders entered Friday’s contest with hope of securing a victory.

The Blue Raiders faced another stiff test in No. 38 ranked San Diego State Friday afternoon.

The Aztecs secured the first point of the day in doubles, winning the No. 1 and No. 3 matches 6-2. Born and Issa once again played No. 1 doubles for the Blue Raiders, but could not find their footing, falling to SDSU’s pair of Freddy Gelbrich and Hendrik Jebens 6-2.

The No. 3 doubles pair of Riethmueller and Fernandez also lost their match 6-2 Friday, losing to the Aztecs’ Marko Goles-Babic and Andranik Khachatryan. MTSU needed to battle back in singles play if it hoped to pull out a victory.

At No. 1 singles, Zito played a strong first set against the Aztecs’ Gilbrech, but he ultimately could never recover, losing in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.

Dima Zyhmantovich, playing at No. 2 singles, could not get over the hump in his match, losing in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 against SDSU’s Thorsten Bertsch.

Miguel Fernandez, at No. 4 singles, also dropped his match in straight sets, falling 6-4, 6-2 to Goles-Babic. This sealed the deal, giving the Aztecs the all-important fourth point.

Born put forth the strongest effort for the Blue Raiders against the Aztecs Friday. Born took the first set against SDSU’s Jebens, and was seeking the first point for the Blue Raiders in the Classic. Jebens found his game, however, and cruised through the final two sets, winning 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.

The Aztec’s won the match 5-0, and left the Blue Raiders pointless so far in the Classic.

Middle Tennessee closes out the Classic Saturday. They will take on No. 39 Indiana. The match is scheduled to get underway at noon CST.

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

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

Previous Blue Raiders Come Up Short Against No. 19 FAU
Next Center for Popular Music Launches New Music Manuscripts Website