The battle for the Governor’s Cup is all tied up at 5.5 points apiece following the IU men’s tennis team’s 5-0 sweep over Purdue on Wednesday evening.
Even though the Hoosiers went to West Lafayette after playing just three days prior, they didn’t show many signs of fatigue as they handed the Boilermakers their first Big Ten loss and sixth total loss of the season.
For over half of IU’s lineup, Wednesday’s match was the first time they had played in the hostile environment of their rival’s home courts.
“It’s definitely a little bit tense," sophomore Zac Brodney said. "You can definitely feel the rivalry. There was a lot of energy, but we tried to counteract that.”
IU was able to knock some of the energy out of Purdue early on by taking the doubles point to start the match. The Hoosiers made a significant change to their doubles lineup before the matchup with the Boilermakers, rearranging all three teams. Aware of IU’s inconsistencies with the doubles point this season, Coach Jeremy Wurtzman decided to experiment, and it paid off.
“We have a lot of options." Wurtzman said. "Our whole team could be out there playing. Moving forward it just gives us more things to talk about and more options, because we definitely like what we saw.”
The Hoosiers followed up the doubles win with a quick start in singles as well. Sophomore Bennett Crane extended the lead to 2-0 with a 6-4, 6-1 victory at No. 4 singles, and junior Antonio Cembellin finished off his opponent by a score of 6-3, 6-1. Just minutes after Cembellin’s match ended, both Brodney and freshman Brandon Lam defeated their opponents to clinch the match and extend the score to 5-0 for the Hoosiers.
Although the final two matches were left unfinished, senior Raheel Manji had taken the first set off of the No. 61-ranked player in the nation. Meanwhile, Brodney admitted that he made an effort to not end up in Manji’s situation.
“I was pretty aware of the other courts because I knew that we were going to play a clinch,” Brodney said. “I was playing a little faster at the end trying to make sure that I was able to finish my match.”
Brodney’s match ended up being the clincher against Purdue, securing IU’s second road win and boosting their record to 6-4 on the season.
By defeating Purdue, IU finished off its road stand with two wins and only one loss. Wurtzman said he has been happy with his team’s performance over the past couple of weeks.
“Since I’ve been here the last few years, the road matches have always been difficult for us,” Wurtzman said. “It has been great that we were able to be successful with a few of these on the road.”
The Hoosiers won’t have to worry about travel in the immediate future, as their next four matches are in Bloomington at the IU Tennis Center. They’ll take on No. 35-ranked Vanderbilt and Saint Louis in a Sunday doubleheader.
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