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Men's tennis heads west for California tournament


The IU men's tennis team gathers in a circle with coaches before a singles match against Purdue at the IU Tennis Center in April of 2017. IU split their two matches at the ITA Kickoff Weekend. Adelina Jusuf Buy Photos

The IU men’s tennis team will spend their weekend in Los Angeles, California, as it prepares to face some high-ranked opponents in the ITA Kickoff Weekend.

The Hoosiers will begin their first match with a Friday afternoon contest against No. 5 USC and will continue play on Saturday with a matchup against either UC Santa Barbara or SMU.

Since the USC match will be first and likely the most challenging, IU Coach Jeremy Wurtzman said the team is focused on preparing for that matchup in particular.

“Southern Cal is a national contender,” said Wurtzman. “We’re definitely going in with an underdog mentality.” 

Regardless, Wurtzman said he is optimistic about IU’s chances and believes his players are ready to face whatever challenges come their way.

“We’re not going there to lose,” said Wurtzman. “We want to put them in a position where they start to doubt themselves and realize that this team is not just going to go away.”

The Hoosier squad will look to seniors Raheel Manji and Keivon Tabrizi for experience, as both players have had success against nationally ranked players in the past.

Manji comes into the weekend ranked No. 125 in ITA Division 1 tennis, but he’s not the only ranked player out of the four teams competing this weekend. USC sophomore Brandon Holt is ranked No. 13 and USC junior Logan Smith has the No. 49 ranking. UCSB junior Nicolas Moreno de Alboran is also ranked, holding onto the No. 42 spot.

Tabrizi said that he isn’t intimidated at all to potentially face some top-tier talent, considering that he spent his freshman and sophomore seasons compiling over 50 total match victories for Wake Forest. Wake Forest was ranked as high as No. 8 while Tabrizi was a member of the team, and they currently hold the top ranking in the nation.

“I know the competition, so no team or player is really going to faze me personally,” said Tabrizi. “I have no fear going into any collegiate tennis match.”

It sure looked that way in Tabrizi’s last match when he picked up a singles point in what ended up being a team loss for the Hoosiers against Memphis. That loss dropped IU’s record to 2-1 for the season.

“I’m definitely glad to be out there and I’m enjoying the competition,” said Tabrizi. “But at the end of the day, we lost as a team and that’s the most important thing.”

Wurtzman said that his team can use the loss to Memphis as motivation to up their game against a stronger USC team on Friday.

“Right now we’re more focused in on really getting that competitiveness to the level that we really want it to be at and learning from some of the losses that we took against Memphis,” said Wurtzman.

Looking at the seasons of IU’s opponents so far, USC has only played one match, taking care of UC Davis. SMU has started off their year 1-2, losing to Harvard and No. 8 Texas. 

Meanwhile, UCSB will be playing their first match of the season with their Friday battle against SMU. The winner of that match will advance to the championship of the ITA Kickoff Weekend to face the winner of the IU-USC match, while the two losing teams will play each other in the consolation match.

The tournament will begin Friday at 10 a.m. with the match between UCSB and SMU, with IU and USC following later in the day. The matches will be held in the David X. Marks Tennis Stadium at USC.

“We believe we can actually go in there and win,” said Tabrizi. “We have a very good team, and we’re just going to focus on what we can control and compete well and see what happens.”

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