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IU falls before finding success on Senior Day



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Then-junior, now-senior, Raheel Manji waits for a Louisville serve during a match Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, in the IU Tennis Center. IU went 1-1 this weekend to conclude its regular season. Rebecca Mehling Buy Photos

The IU men’s tennis team split its final two matches of the season, but ultimately ended on a high note with a Senior Day victory.

Against No. 3 Ohio State on Friday afternoon, the No. 46 ranked Hoosiers picked up two upset singles wins before falling 5-2 to the Buckeyes.

To finish off the weekend, and the regular season, IU made quick work of No. 49 Penn State, defeating the Nittany Lions 4-0 to send off the IU seniors in front of the home crowd.

This was the last regular season match for seniors Raheel Manji and Keivon Tabrizi, who have spent a combined six years at IU. 

“It’s with a heavy heart. Those guys were great for us,” IU Coach Jeremy Wurtzman said. “It’s a sad day to have their last home match but I’m glad that we were able to win.”

Manji is the first Hoosier to be coached by Wurtzman for all four years of his college career, as the two of them came to IU in 2014. During his time at IU, Manji won 63 singles matches and 38 doubles sets. 

“I’ve always been pretty focused on winning and losing, and one of the things I’ve took out of this whole experience is that there is more to tennis,” Manji said. “There’s the relationships and the great moments through adversity and through triumph that you can get out of this sport that is often unrecognized when you are so caught up in winning and losing."

Tabrizi echoed Manji’s sentiment, citing how important the team’s bond has been. Tabrizi transferred to IU from current No. 1 ranked Wake Forest at the end of his sophomore season, but said the switch was worth it. 

“These guys are like your brothers and you do everything with them,” Tabrizi said. “They have your backs and you have their backs. That’s what I’m going to miss the most when I’m off playing on my own.”

For Manji, the team had to come first when they faced Ohio State on Friday. After IU lost the doubles point, he sat out in singles due to an injured wrist, pushing junior Antonio Cembellin into the top singles spot. Cembellin proceeded to pick up his first ranked win of the season, taking down senior Mikael Torpegaard, the No. 4 player in the nation. 

Freshman Brandon Lam was the only other Hoosier to win Friday, defeating junior Martin Joyce, the No. 99 ranked player for his second ranked win in as many attempts.

For Sunday’s Senior Day match, Manji was back in action. He and Tabrizi both contributed to claiming the doubles point for the Hoosiers and took the first sets of their matches.

In the end, neither senior finished their matches, as the underclassman all won their matches in straight sets to clinch the 4-0 victory for IU.

“Down low, I think we’ve done a good job of consistently being the better team and it’s great that those guys stepped up today,” Wurtzman said. “The future is in good hands with those guys coming back for another couple of years.”

The Hoosiers will enter the Big Ten Tournament with the fifth best record in the conference and will compete for an opportunity in the NCAA Tournament as well.

“They know what’s on the line. We want to make the NCAA Tournament and we’re very close to doing that,” Wurtzman said. “They just want to keep playing for the team and for this university.”

Regardless of how the season ends, Manji said he wants to give everything he can for IU to honor everything the program has done for him. Before his last match as a Hoosier, IU played the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada", as a tribute to Manji and his Canadian roots. 

“It was an extra bonus I didn’t need, but Indiana has given me everything,” Manji said. “It was special for me and I’m very grateful for this school.”

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