The IU men's tennis team hits the court with a clash against Evansville Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Indiana Tennis Center. This marks the Hoosiers' (5-3) last non-conference match before the Big Ten season begins March 2 at Northwestern. IU has played eight matches this spring, while Evansville (1-1) has played only twice. \nMatches help teams mature, but the difference in the number of matches won't help the Hoosiers more than Evansville.\n"Evansville will be ready and eager to face a Big Ten opponent," coach Ken Hydinger said. "It would be a special win to them."\nIU's good mental and emotional states both on and off the court have been instrumental in its success, and younger players have been the ones exhibiting this emotional control.\nFreshman Jakub Praibis is 7-1 in spring singles and 4-3 in doubles. Praibis had a sore knee in his last match against Middle Tennessee State and considering that injury, he played tough. \nFreshman Tom Bagnato's emotional presence has been solid as well. Bagnato boasts a 5-1 record in spring singles and has not appeared in doubles. But Bagnato has been up and down. \n"He's had a rollercoaster season," Hydinger said. "One game he's up and the next game he's down. He needs to be more consistent." \nBagnato was down one set and 3-1 in the second set against his last opponent but fought back to win. In addition, freshmen Ryan Recht, Jon Magnes and Reid Strand have all contributed. Magnes has played solely at singles this spring, and Strand has played at doubles. Recht recalls his own poise. \n"My confidence is high in doubles, because I feel very confident in Rahman (Smiley)," Recht said. \nThe seniors have also elevated their level of play. \nOne of those seniors is Smiley, who is 3-2 in spring singles and 3-3 in doubles. He has been hobbled by a sore back, which has good days and bad days. Despite his injuries, Smiley just goes out and plays. \n"He doesn't let the situation dictate what's going to happen," Hydinger said. "He has a lot of heart." \nIn addition to Smiley, senior Milan Rakvica is a leader on the team. He is in seventh place on the Hoosiers' all-time career singles wins list with 85 and needs one victory to tie Paul Jacobson for sixth. Rakvica is 6-2 in spring singles and 12-6 overall this season. He is not only strong at singles; he ranks eighth on IU's all-time doubles wins list with 64.\nLike Rakvica's play, the team's intensity has been solid, even though the Hoosiers have lost the doubles point the last four matches. The competition they have played has been a factor in their doubles struggles. All of Middle Tennessee State's doubles pair, for example, were ranked. \nRecht focused on the team's future mentality. \n"We have to hang in there," he said. \nThe team has to fight through injuries, as well. Smiley is out one match, Recht the next and Held the next. Furthermore, teams they have played, such as Ball State, are traditionally strong in doubles. \n"We need to win them," Smiley said. "But we're playing hard teams in doubles just about every time out." \nThe team needs to get back on the right track in doubles, especially before the Big Ten season begins.\nThe Hoosiers are undefeated all-time versus the Purple Aces, posting an 8-0 record, including a 6-0 mark in Bloomington.\n"We need to take advantage of the home matches," Smiley said, "because we have quite a few road matches coming up"
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