The IU men’s tennis team will have momentum on their side as it travels to Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday to battle Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders will provide the Hoosiers with a difficult match-up.
A win for IU would give the Hoosiers two consecutive road wins and three straight victories. Meanwhile, No. 24-ranked Texas Tech is coming off its third loss of the season, having fallen to No. 6 Texas A&M on Sunday. Regardless, Texas Tech is still undefeated at home and has not lost to an unranked opponent all season.
“Texas Tech is one of the best teams in the country, no doubt,” IU Coach Jeremy Wurtzman said. “It’s going to be a tough task, but we’re up for it, and we feel like if we can get the right matchups, we definitely have a chance.”
IU and Texas Tech are no strangers to each other on the court, as the teams have played every year since Wurtzman’s time at IU began in 2014. Wurtzman’s squad has yet to beat the Red Raiders, but he has confidence his team will be prepared.
“We’re comfortable with who they have on their team,” Wurtzman said. “We’ll be ready for what they bring.”
Sophomore Bennett Crane, who lost his singles match in three sets to Texas Tech last season, said he is optimistic as well.
“I think that this year we’re a stronger team and hopefully we’ll be able to get the win there,” Crane said.
What IU will face in Texas is a team that is 7-0 at home and has earned road wins against No. 15-ranked Virginia and a Memphis team who beat IU earlier in the season.
Texas Tech has a very deep lineup, as it is the only ranked team without an individually ranked singles player. In doubles though, the Red Raiders have the No. 35-ranked pairing in the nation. The Hoosiers don’t have any doubles rankings, but they do have senior Raheel Manji, who is ranked No. 114 in singles.
“That definitely gives us a little confidence that we have a ranked player,” Wurtzman said. “We feel like we’ve got a few ranked players on our team that just haven’t quite hit the rankings yet.”
Wurtzman said he believes players such as Manji, junior Antonio Cembellin and senior Keivon Tabrizi specifically are deserving of recognition this year.
“Our top three has been strong,” Wurtzman said. “Those guys have really come a long way and are playing some of the best tennis that there is to play in college.”
Those three have been mainstays in IU’s lineup this season in the top three singles spots and will likely remain in the same position against Texas Tech. Crane and sophomore Zac Brodney are also likely to play this weekend, considering neither of them have missed a match all season.
Freshman Brandon Lam played a lot early in the season, but he hasn’t taken the court for the Hoosiers’ last two matches. Junior Afonso Salgado has been in the singles lineup instead.
“It’s nice to have such a strong bench, and it’s nice to have a lot of options,” Wurtzman said. “We’ll see what we go with each match, but the guys are working hard and making it tough to decide.”
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