IU men's tennis losing streak reaches 10 matches

IU was unable to find a win in both its matches during the weekend, as it lost 4-0 to Illinois on Friday evening in Bloomington and 4-0 to Northwestern on Sunday in Evanston, Illinois.

The Hoosiers are now on a 10-match losing streak, with their last win coming in February when they beat Washington 5-2 at home.

IU came close to breaking its losing streak Friday, though.

The Hoosiers were close to getting the doubles point. The pair of seniors Sam Monette and Daniel Bednarczyk beat Illinois’ Aron Hiltzik and Aleks Vukic 6-3 in No. 1 doubles.

Senior Chris Essick and junior Stefan Lugonjic lost to their opponents 6-4 before sophomore Raheel Manji and freshman Afonso Salgado lost to Illinois’ Julian Childers and Brian Page 7-6 (9-7).

The energy in the doubles matches seemed to carry over to the singles. Despite the 4-0 score line, the Hoosiers never seemed to be outclassed by their higher ranked opponents, Wurtzman said.

“We were a couple points away here and there, small margins,” IU Coach Jeremy Wurtzman said. “We didn’t get blown out by any means. Doubles matches we had match points, singles matches we were in position for three matches with a legitimate chance to win. It wasn’t as if we were just out there playing.”

Manji, who went up against No. 4 Aleks Vukic in No. 2 singles, came close on several occasions but ultimately lost 6-4, 6-3. There were times Manji seemed to have the upper hand, especially when he came out strong at the start of the second set. However, the sophomore seemed to miss shots he usually would not.

“Vukic has done well on the world stage,” Wurtzman said. “I would have to say that Raheel wasn’t outplayed, but at the same time, he would have had to play at an extremely high level for the whole match. Raheel hit some great shots, and that guy didn’t just get him back, he would do something to get himself not only out of the defense, but into an offensive position. Normally, guys either miss that or neutralize that, and he wasn’t doing either.”

Despite the loss, Manji said he was content with his performance and could also recount the incident where he thought momentum might have swung in favor of his higher-ranked opponent.

“I knew it was an opportunity to play a big player, and I wanted to take my chances, and I think I did for most of the match,” Manji said. “There was one deuce point on his serve, I think, that I didn’t get, and they can change the momentum. So I think it was one of the deuce points early up in the second set that changed the momentum.”

Childers beat junior Matthew McCoy 6-1, 6-4 to seal the clincher for the Illini. At the time of the clincher, Monette was tied at 1-1 and in the midst of the third set, while Bednarczyk had fought back from being a set down to 6-6 in his second set and playing in a tiebreaker. Freshman Antonio Cembellin was also tied with his opponent but was leading 4-0 in the third set.

On Sunday, IU conceded the doubles point to Northwestern when Sam Shropshire and Konrad Zieba beat IU’s Essick and Lugonjic 6-0 at No. 2 doubles, and when Fedor Baev and Strong Kirchheimer beat Monette and Bednarczyk 6-1 at No. 1 doubles.

Salgado lost to Alp Horoz 6-2, 6-3 in No. 5 singles, Bednarczyk lost 7-6, 6-1 to Kirchheimer in No. 3 singles, and Shropshire got the clincher for Northwestern when he beat Monette 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in No. 1 singles.

Sunday’s game was also the first outdoor match for the Hoosiers in the Big Ten this season.

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