By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Youth reigned supreme for the Tennessee Tech tennis team during Thursday night's Ohio Valley Conference tennis banquet.
Three Golden Eagle freshmen and sophomore Riku Kubota took home all-conference honors, an evening before the start of the 2019 OVC Tournament in Nashville. Rafael Tosetto and Carlos Vicente headlined the group with spots on the All-OVC first team, while Elias Grubert and Kubota stamped their tickets on the All-OVC second team.
Vicente was also recognized as the OVC's Freshman of the Year, carrying on an impressive Tech tradition of four Golden Eagle rookies to claim the prestigious award over the last five years. Eduardo Mena took home the honor in 2015, while Guillermo Nicolas was recognized in 2016 and current TTU junior Marc Mila secured the accolade in 2017.
Tennessee Tech tennis has placed at least three on the All-OVC first or second team in each of the last five years, adding to a Golden Eagle legacy of late that has seen Tech capture at least a share of seven of the last nine regular-season OVC championships.
Vicente excelled toward the top of the Tech singles lineup with a 5-3 mark out of the No. 2 spot, highlighted by a 4-1 OVC ledger. The Valencia, Spain native was just as impressive during doubles action, going 10-5 out of the No. 1 TTU tandem spot, punctuated by a 3-0 record during OVC play.
Rafael Tosetto turned heads in his rookie campaign, serving as the only Golden Eagle to appear in the top spot in the Tech singles lineup. The Jacarei, Brazil product posted a 9-9 resume throughout the spring, including a 4-1 record in OVC matches.
Tosetto won his final four conference clashes and did not drop a set in the process. The 5-foot-8 rookie smacked an exclamation point on the end of the regular season with a 6-0, 6-0 win against Tennessee State's top competitor in the regular-season finale on Apr. 17. The momentum in the match carried Tosetto to his second consecutive OVC Male Tennis Athlete of the Week honor and third such award this season.
Tosetto racked up a club-leading 11 doubles wins throughout the year, posting a 3-1 mark in OVC play.
Elias Grubert gave the Golden Eagle stability in the middle of the lineup with a combined 5-1 singles record out of the No. 3 and No. 4 spots. The Parana, Argentina native went 3-1 during OVC play, all out of the No. 3 position in the Tech lineup.
After a strong freshman campaign, Riku Kubota carried that momentum into an All-OVC second-team award with eight overall singles wins during the season, highlighted by a 4-0 ledger during conference contests.
The Takasaki, Gunma, Japan product won all four of his OVC battles out of the No. 4 spot and gave the Golden Eagles production out of the bottom of the singles lineup with a perfect 2-0 record out of the No. 6 position. Kubota also went 6-5 out of the No. 2 spot in doubles play, going 3-1 in the OVC slate.
Tech enters the OVC Tournament as the No. 1 seed after claiming a share of the regular-season championship. The Golden Eagles enter the field of six with a first-round bye and have already secured a spot in Saturday's semifinals. TTU will await the winner of No. 4 Austin Peay and No. 5 Eastern Illinois in a first-round affair Friday afternoon. The Golden Eagles will lock up with the victory on Saturday, Apr. 27 at 2 p.m. CT from Nashville's Centennial Sportsplex.
The championship match is slated for Sunday, Apr. 28 at 2 p.m. from the Centennial Sportsplex. Tech has won the last three OVC Tournament titles, searching to become the conference's first four-peat winner since the turn of the century.