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Men’s tennis looks to start building up wins

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Now-junior Antonio Cembellin returns a shot in his singles match against Princeton as a sophomore on Feb. 4, 2017. IU will travel to Tennessee this weekend to challenge the one-loss Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.  Josh Eastern Buy Photos

The IU men’s tennis team will travel to Murfreesboro, Tennessee this weekend to face the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders as the Hoosiers try to pick up their first road win of the season.

Out of IU’s four wins this season, three have come in Bloomington, with the other one coming from a neutral site match against Southern Methodist. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers are 0-2 when playing on their opponent’s home courts and will need to play some strong tennis on Friday if they want to keep their overall win percentage above .500.

Middle Tennessee has only lost one match all season and heads into this match-up with a perfect 6-0 record at home. IU Coach Jeremy Wurtzman knows the team well and is using this week to prepare.

“We’ll probably sit down this week and look at Middle Tennessee closely and see what they’re doing,” Wurtzman said. “We see them during the regionals, and we know they have a very, very good team.”

This season, the Hoosiers have played a lot of high-level tennis but haven’t been able to piece together any consistent series of wins. A win over the Blue Raiders would be just the second time all season that the Hoosiers have won consecutive matches.

Part of that can be attributed to the doubles point that is up for grabs at the start of each match.

The Hoosiers have only won the doubles point three times this season, but each time they have claimed that early point, they have gone on to earn the overall victory.

“It sets the tone,” Wurtzman said. “It takes a long time to get that point back."

That doubles point might be tougher to grab than usual for the Hoosiers this weekend, as one of Middle Tennessee’s doubles squads is ranked No. 48 in the nation, according to the newest rankings released on Tuesday.

IU has a ranked player of their own in senior Raheel Manji, who has moved up several slots in the singles rankings to No. 114.

Fellow senior Keivon Tabrizi is confident about IU’s chances against Middle Tennessee, despite the Hoosier’s losing record away from Bloomington and inconsistent play throughout the season.

“We’re just going to have to focus on ourselves and getting ourselves as ready as possible,” Tabrizi said. “We can honestly beat any team on the road."

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