TULSA, Okla. – Bucknell men’s tennis player Nick Bybel won his first match in the prestigious ITA All-American Championships on Saturday morning, defeating Memphis senior Cedric de Zutter at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa. The sophomore earned the victory in straight sets, winning 7-6, 6-3, and will advance to the second round of the pre-qualifying bracket.

"Nick played a very smart match against his opponent,” said head tennis coach Rebecca Helt. “He stuck to a simple game plan, and as the match went on his execution just got better.”

Bybel found himself down 1-4 in the tiebreaker in the first set, but then won four straight points to take a 5-4 lead over de Zutter. The match was halted mid-set due to rainfall, and play was moved indoors after an hour delay. The match resumed with Bybel serving 5-4 in the tiebreaker, and although he lost the first point to even the breaker, he won the next two to take the first set.

In the second set, both players held to 4-3 before Bybel got the first and only break of serve in the match. He used that to his advantage, going up 5-3 over de Zuttter, and was able to serve out the rest of the match for the win.

“The key to Nick’s win was in the return of de Zutter’s serves,” said Helt. “He just kept working and once he started to put solid returns in, he made his opponent work hard for every service game. Eventually he got the key break. It was a very solid performance."

Bybel will meet Texas A&M’s Jordan Szabo in the second round of the pre-qualifying bracket on Sunday at 10 a.m. Eastern (9 a.m. in Tulsa).