Following a weekend of strong tennis, the IU men’s tennis team returns to Bloomington this weekend to host a surging Dartmouth team and what is likely to be a competitive Arizona squad.
IU is coming off a weekend in which they took five sets, including one match, off of No. 5 University of Southern California before sweeping Southern Methodist University the next day.
Although the sunny weather and outdoor court conditions will not be the same in Bloomington as they were in Los Angeles, the Hoosiers are hoping to replicate their own high level of play when they face two tough teams.
“It’s always great to finish the weekend on a win,” IU Coach Jeremy Wurtzman said. “That can really help you and keep you more motivated throughout the week to work and prepare for the next weekend.”
Naturally, any win IU earns can help build confidence, but Wurtzman and his team see this most recent victory as even more of a motivator considering how well they played against an SMU team which competed in the NCAA tournament last season.
“We just use all the work that we’ve put in and keep building off of that win,” senior Raheel Manji said. “Going into Dartmouth and Arizona, they’re going to be another two tough teams just like SMU and hopefully that confidence and momentum will help us carry through.”
Both of IU’s opponents this weekend have had success so far in their seasons. Dartmouth comes into their Friday evening match-up with the Hoosiers undefeated in regular season play. The 4-0 Big Green have yet to have a single player lose a match all year.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Wildcats come into Bloomington on Sunday with a 5-1 record with their only loss coming to No. 18 Oklahoma.
Despite the fact that IU has a worse record than both teams they are facing this weekend, the Hoosiers are optimistic about their upcoming match-ups.
“There’s a lot of motivation going into every week preparing for every match,” Manji said. "I want to keep climbing individually, and I want our team to keep climbing in the team rankings as well.”
Although Manji is the only nationally ranked Hoosier, some of the younger players on the team have already started to earn some recognition, such as freshman Brandon Lam who Wurtzman described as an 18-year-old playing men’s tennis.
“He’s got a big game,” Wurtzman said. “It’s early but we like what we see from him.”
Lam picked up his first victory over a ranked player last weekend with his win against USC.
“Having this win will keep me motivated to keep getting better,” Lam said. “I know Dartmouth and Arizona are both very good teams but hopefully I can ride this wave of confidence and get two more victories.”
The match against Dartmouth will take place at 6 p.m. Friday and the Arizona match will be at noon Sunday. Both matches will be played in the IU Tennis Center.
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