IU has not played at home since beating No. 39 Washington on Feb. 5, and it will finally get to return Friday when it faces No. 10 Illinois.
Since the victory over Washington, IU has lost its last eight matches. IU Coach Jeremy Wurtzman said being able to play at home is a welcome relief for them against the Illini.
“It will be nice to be at home on Friday night and if we can get a good crowd,” Wurtzman said. “We beat a very good Washington team, and if we can play at that level, we can definitely give them some trouble.”
IU’s run of matches is not getting any easier as it faces No. 12 Northwestern on Sunday.
The Hoosiers have had a few close calls against higher-ranked teams. Most notably, the Hoosiers came back from 3-1 down to tie 3-3 against Cornell on March 3 before conceding the clincher.
Most recently, the doubles pair of seniors Sam Monette and Daniel Bednarczyk beat the country’s No. 1 doubles team when IU faced Texas Tech during spring break on March 14.
“It can shift the momentum anytime that you can win the doubles point on a team that’s ranked as high as the teams that we’ll be facing,” Wurtzman said. “They will want it to be easy, but if we win the doubles point and make the first set tight, it will make them feel like they cannot just cruise through the day.”
The Hoosiers remained on the West Coast after the game, and Wurtzman said he thought the weeklong team-bonding activities were good for the Hoosiers.
“I think the spring break was a nice time,” Wurtzman said. “We were able to bond together, especially with some of the losses we’ve taken. It’s never easy when you lose a few in a row like we have.”
Looking toward this weekend’s games, Wurtzman said he is aware of the threat the two teams pose and he acknowledges each is a Big Ten title contender.
“They are all competing for the Big Ten title with a legitimate chance of winning it,” Wurtzman said. “We are really going to have our hands full.”
The Hoosiers are unbeaten at home this spring, and Bednarczyk said he looks forward to playing in front of the home fans again.
“We are playing a top-10 team and I think this is a good opportunity, and we are all excited,” Bednarczyk said. “We haven’t been at home for a while, and it’s different playing under a crowd that’s behind you, and that can really work to our advantage.”
Both Bednarczyk and Wurtzman also stressed the importance of the doubles point, and they said they feel getting the point in the doubles Friday will go a long way in ensuring a very competitive match.
“Doubles point is crucial, always crucial,” Bednarczyk said. “I think we win a lot of our matches once we win the doubles point.”
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