Johnson City, Tenn. - The third-seeded Stetson men's tennis team (17-4) got off to a solid start in the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference Championships on Friday, shutting out sixth-seeded FGCU (7-10) 4-0 at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center on the campus of East Tennessee State University. Senior Maksim Levanovich (Minsk, Belarus) earned wins in singles and doubles 24 hours after being named A-Sun Player of the Year.
Levanovich and freshman Chester Espie (Auckland, New Zealand) opened the match with an 8-2 Court 2 doubles win over Jackson Moore and Dean Tsamas. The other two doubles matches were hardfought battles but ultimately sophomore Hans Adrian Riseng (Oslo, Norway) and senior Njal Stene (Oslo, Norway) would prevail in a 9-8 tiebreaker on Court 1 against Lance Lvovsky and Matthew Rock to give the Hatters the doubles point and a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.
Stetson came out strong in singles, winning all six first sets and imposing its will on the Eagles. Freshman Nathan Debut (Toulon, France) made it 2-0 Stetson when he beat Rock 6-3, 6-2 on Court 4; the score soon went to 3-0 in favor of the Hatters when Stene won by the exact same score on Court 2 against Tsamas. Finally it was Levanovich at the top of the lineup stopping FGCU's A-Sun Freshman of the Year Tianyu Bao 6-4, 6-1 to clinch the match for the Hatters. All three remaining singles matches were stopped at that point due to time constraints.
The win advances Stetson to tomorrow's semifinals where it will face second-seeded and 62nd-ranked North Florida in a match slated for 11:00 am at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center. The Hatters eliminated UNF in last year's A-Sun semifinal round but will also be looking to avenge a tough 4-3 defeat to the Ospreys on March 31.
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