ATLANTA--In its most difficult test since the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the No. 60-ranked Georgia State men's tennis team travels to Johnson City, Tenn., for a match vs. No. 74-ranked ETSU and nationally-recognized Nebraska this weekend.
The Panthers (6-1) begin the tough weekend with a match vs. ETSU (3-2) at 11:30 a.m. on Friday morning. It will be the third nationally-ranked opponent GSU will face this season. Georgia State then follows that up with a match on Saturday at 10 a.m. vs. Nebraska (3-3) which is coming off a 4-3 upset victory over No. 30-ranked VCU last weekend. Both matches will take place on the indoor courts at the Bristol Racquet Club in Bristol, Tenn.
"This weekend will present a massive challenge for us as we will have to play on a faster surface indoors, which is something we are not accustomed to," first-year head coach Joerg Barthel said. "There is a big difference between indoor and outdoor tennis and for us to get better in the next few years we have to face top teams like ETSU and Nebraska indoors. I look forward to the adversity we will have to overcome as we have only had seven days of indoor tennis experience in total this calendar year."
GSU and ETSU have met three times with the Buccaneers taking two of those matches. Georgia State won a narrow contest in the most recent matchup last year by a 5-2 margin. Senior Lucas Santa Ana clinched the match as the Panthers upset the No. 64-ranked Buccaneers in an indoor match at the Peachtree City Tennis Center last year.
ETSU enters Friday's match following a 12-day layoff following a 6-1 win at Appalachian State on Feb. 2. The Buccaneers competed at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend earlier this season. They dropped a 7-0 match to No. 4-ranked Ohio State before earning a 4-2 victory vs. No. 71-ranked Louisiana Lafayette of the Sun Belt Conference.
Leading the Buccaneers is senior Jesus Bandres, the No. 19-ranked singles player in the Ohio Valley region, who is 2-2 to begin the season in the No. 1 slot. Junior Roger Oredig won the Atlantic Sun Player of the Week award on Jan. 30 this season. 11th-year head coach Yaser Zaatini and the Buccaneers have only lost one other match all season to No. 66 Wake Forest.
"ETSU is a team that is very well coached with a lot of experience and strong players," Barthel said, "You always get a tough battle out of them and they will push us to our limits."
Nebraska is coming off a successful weekend at home where it won a 4-3 match vs. No. 30 VCU and a 6-1 match vs. Creighton. Its lone loss was a 4-3 decision against No. 41-ranked Drake. Saturday will be the third time in series history the Panthers and Huskers will meet with the last match taking place in 2009, a 5-2 win for Nebraska. Leading the Huskers is senior Andre Stenger at the No. 1 position. He is coming off a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 win against VCU's No. 67-ranked singles player Alexis Huegas.
"Nebraska is a Big Ten team that has been nationally ranked the past six seasons and is clearly an indoor team with great facilities that allow them to practice indoors on a daily basis," Barthel, a former Nebraska men's tennis assistant coach said. "They just upset No. 30 VCU on an indoor surface and will present a challenge for us that we may not have seen so far this year."
Live stats will be available courtesy of GeorgiaStateSports.com for both matches this weekend. Visit the men's tennis page following each match for a full recap and list of results. Fans can also follow the men's tennis team on Twitter at "@GSUMTennis" for live results.