New coach looks to take on Big South men’s tennis challenge
Men’s Tennis | 02/15/2022 17:20:00
GREENSBORO EAST – North Carolina’s A&T Men’s Tennis has a new head coach.
NC A&T men’s tennis is in a new conference.
NC A&T men’s tennis has three newcomers.
But you probably shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that everything is new to the NC A&T men’s tennis program.
The Aggies open the 2022 season at 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18 at Queens University in Charlotte. They entered their first season in the Big South Conference as a preseason pick to finish seventh out of eight teams.
New head coach Ansel Dejon Bivens is entering his fifth season at NC A&T and his first season as head coach of the Aggies. Bivens, Winthrop’s star player for two seasons, has added two freshmen to his roster, including Ethan Baly (Charleston, SC) and Eder Blanco (Madrid, Spain).
Make no mistake though. Not everything is new. As for the Deep South, Bivens helped Winthrop win the Deep South in 2010 as a student-athlete. The following season, he earned All-Big South honors. As for returning players, the Aggies have plenty of those as well.
Eadwyn Bacar (OS, Paris, France), Vasil Ivanov (SR, Kardjali, Bulgaria), Esteban Lopez (JR, Bogotá, Colombia), nolan martino (SR, Concord, North Carolina) and Mike Ogundele (SO, Raleigh, NC) are back for another season at AggieLand.
Ivanov, the most decorated player in A&T men’s history, is back for his last fight. He earned Middle East Athletic Conference (MEAC) Rookie of the Year honors in 2019. Additionally, Ivanov is a two-time All-MEAC selection with a 7-0 record against MEAC competition. in singles and a 5-1 record in doubles.
Meanwhile, Martino has nine singles wins at the start of his senior season, including a win over Samir Agadi of Duke University, 7-6, 7-4 in the 2020 season. Lopez is entering his freshman year with six singles wins. Ogundele won twice in singles last season.
The Ivanov and Lopez duo was formidable last season. They went 3-2 on aggregate in doubles with a 2-0 mark in the MEAC.
“We have a very solid freshman class of solid tennis players coming in,” Bivens said. “Our freshmen will add support to our very strong nucleolus that started with Vasil from the beginning.”
The Aggies are coming off a strong fall season. Blanco won his slice last fall tournament at Wake Forest against teammate Lopez. The two paired up and qualified for the doubles championship in their pool, but fell to Duke’s doubles duo of Connor Krug and Niroop Vallabhaneni 6-3.
Blanco became the first men’s tennis player to win an ITA region since the program’s revival in 2015. He beat UNC Greensboro’s Roger Rogowski 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the first round.
With a solid 1-5 nucleolus, this will allow us to be competitive. We’re looking to go to the Deep South and bang our fists on the table,” Bivens said.
The Aggies are hoping to take their new, mix it up with their returning veterans, to achieve their first-ever conference tournament championship. The Big South tournament begins with the first round, April 15-16, at select campus sites. The semi-finals and finals will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina at Marion Diehl Park on April 22-23.