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Five Blue Raiders earn All-Sun Belt awards

Davis clinches third straight All-SBC performance, second straight All-SBC First-Team

April 17, 2013 · @MTAthletics

NEW ORLEANS - Five men's tennis athletes earned All-Sun Belt Conference nods, as announced by the conference office Wednesday.

Ben Davis led all Blue Raiders (No. 49 Intercollegiate Tennis Association) with First-Team singles and doubles nods, while Victor Cornea joined him on First-Team doubles. On the Second-Team, Christoph Lang and Ettore Zito were nominated for their singles play, and the pair of Lang and David Fox for doubles.

Davis was 13-9 in dual play this year, including wins over then-No. 29 Andreas Bjerrehus (Virginia Tech), then-No. 114 Spencer Wolf (Northwestern) and then No. 125 Austin Powell (North Carolina State). David defeated Bjerrehus, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 in helping MT grab the upset at the ITA Kickoff Weekend, and had a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Wolf - one of only two MT victories that day. Against Powell, Davis won 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. This is the second straight First-Team All-SBC singles award, and third straight All-SBC performance for Davis.

In his first season as a Blue Raider, Cornea went 16-8 in singles play, but earned All-Sun Belt First-Team by teaming with Davis to go 11-4 in doubles play. The pair earned an automatic First-Team berth for their No. 67 ITA ranking. Over the course of the season, Davis and Cornea defeated then No. 11 Mississippi State's 13th-ranked pair of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp, 8-4 in Flight 1 doubles, and had a 8-3 win over NC State's Beck Bond and Austin Powell. NC State was ranked No. 34 at the time. Davis was also named First-Team All-SBC doubles last year.

Zito went 18-6 in dual singles play this year, including stints at Flights 1, 3, 4 and 5. His biggest win came against Stefan Vinti of Mississippi State, whom he knocked off in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. Against Simon Norenius of NC State, Zito won 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, to help the Blue Raiders knock off the Wolfpack. In the team dual with Virginia State, Zito defeated Mauricio Antun, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 to spark the Blue Raiders on a four-point comeback for the victory.

For Lang, the dual season saw him go 13-9 in Flights 1, 2 and 3. Lang's victories over Rys Johnson (No. 44 Vanderbilt), Daniel Hoffman (Yale) and Gerhar Gruindelingh (South Alabama) propelled him to a Second-Team All-Conference award. Lang knocked off Johnson 6-4, 6-3 for MT's lone victory on the day, and defeated Hoffman, 6-4, 6-1, to help the Blue Raiders dominate, 6-1. Against Gruindelingh, Lang started the team match with a 6-2, 6-2 impressive win to help the Blue Raiders sweep USA, 4-0.

Lang teamed with Fox in doubles play for 12 matches this season, and won 10 of them, setting them up for All-Conference second team awards. Perhaps their biggest victory came against Romain Bogaerts and Pedro Dumont of then-No. 11 Mississippi State, an 8-7 (7-5) victory that clinched the doubles point for the Blue Raiders. The pair also had back-to-back wins in doubles against then-No. 33 Northwestern and then-No. 34 NC State. Lang and Fox defeated Mihir Kumar and Alex Pasareanu of Northwestern, 8-6, and NC State's Robbie Mudge and Thomas Weigel, 8-2.

The Blue Raiders are in Lafayette, La., this weekend for the Sun Belt Conference Championships, where they hold the No. 1 seed. MT will face the winner of No. 4 seed Louisiana and No. 5 seed Florida Atlantic on Friday at 2 p.m. in the semifinals.

SBC All-Conference First-Team Singles
Victor Valente, Georgia State
Rick de Groot, Louisiana-Lafayette
Ben Davis, Middle Tennessee
Daniel Leitner, South Alabama

SBC All-Conference First-Team Doubles
Lucas Santa Ana/Victor Valente, Georgia State
Victor Cornea/Ben Davis, Middle Tennessee

SBC All-Conference Second-Team Singles
Robert Schulze, Georgia State
Christoph Lang, Middle Tennessee
Ettore Zito, Middle Tennessee
Alex Bernard, South Alabama

SBC All-Conference Second-Team Doubles
Rick de Groot/Jake Wynan, Louisiana-Lafayette
David Fox/Christoph Lang, Middle Tennessee

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