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18 April 2007
Saratt a gift from Heaven ... well, more like Brazil

By Al Muskewitz
Assistant Metro Editor
Anniston Star Sports Writer

Eduardo Saratt showed up on Jacksonville State tennis coach Steve Bailey’s doorstep at the start of spring semester like one of those bundles in a blue blanket.

There was no note, but if there were, it probably would have read, “Here is Eduardo. Take care of him, and he’ll take care of you.”

Saratt has been a true gift for the Gamecocks’ tennis team. It was an ordeal to get him here, but the little freshman from the big country is riding a school-record 16-match winning streak and has been a key to the team winning its first Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title.

“I wasn’t expecting to do so well,” Saratt said, with interpreter help from teammate and countryman Bernardo Bachino. “I started out not too good. The courts were different than in Brazil, but, fortunately, I found my best game.

“Now I’m feeling really confident, and every match I win I feel better.”

Saratt hasn’t lost a match since Feb. 16, breaking the record of 14 set by Vedran Sirola in 2005. He’s lost one set during the streak and just 65 games.

He was tested in Monday’s OVC-clinching victory at UT-Martin, falling behind in both sets, but rallied to win 7-5, 7-5.

“He’s tough when the pressure’s on,” Bailey said.

Saratt’s last-minute arrival couldn’t have been more fortuitous for the Gamecocks. Bailey had just lost one of his starters to a family emergency. He called one of his South American contacts, who just happened to know that Brazil’s third-ranked junior was looking for a college.

Saratt seemed headed to Indiana State, but didn’t meet one of the Sycamores’ entrance requirements for foreign students. That opened the door for JSU, but the bureaucratic clock was ticking.

Saratt arrived just four days before playing his first match. He lost his first two singles matches, each in three sets, and hasn’t lost since. He’ll play No. 3 at the OVC Tournament.

“We’re so fortunate,” Bailey said. “I wasn’t sure I could even get a player until next year, then to come up with a guy of his caliber who was available, I should go to Vegas next week.”

About Al Muskewitz

Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State University sports teams for The Anniston Star.

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