Head Coach Martin Stiegwardt, his first year with ETSU men’s tennis, got off to a quick start as the Bucs traveled down to Athens, Georgia, this past weekend to compete in the 50th annual Southern Intercollegiate Championships, known as one of the nations’ premiere season tournaments.

“A few guys really surprised me with how they competed and played,” Stiegwardt said.

ETSU has won 11 straight conference titles, including last year defeating the Mercer Bears 4-3 in the conference championship. The Bucs claimed the one seed heading into that tournament last year. The Bucs went undefeated in conference play at 7-0 and ended the season with a 16-8 overall record.

ETSU faces an uphill battle this year as they lost their No. 1- and No. 2-seeded players to graduation. To reload the roster and keep the Southern Conference title streak alive, Stiegwardt expands on each player he brought in.

Sergi Coletes (Barcelona, Spain) is one of the new members on the team and a junior.

“Sergi is a transfer from a Division 2 school, but was their No. 1 seed there and will be one of our top players this year,” Stiegwardt said. “He will play up top for the doubles’ matches.”

Chris Mikrovas (Athens, Greece) is another new player, also a transfer like Coletes.

“Chris brings experience and leadership. He has been there and done that,” Stiegwardt said. “Coming from NC State he knows what it takes to compete at a top level.”

Tasei Miyamoto (Chiba, Japan) is the only new freshman to the team and Stiegwardt is ready for the year with him as he is “very skilled, very disciplined and very coachable.”

Mikrovas, in his first tournament for the Bucs, won 6-2, 1-6, 12-10 in his three-set win.

“It was great to start off the year with a high-level tournament like that,” Mikrovas said. “It’s a good building block for the fall and for our preparation for our next match in a couple weeks.”

The Bucs will play next at the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sept. 30 – Oct. 9.