A day of highly competitive tennis for the IU men’s tennis team resulted in a split as IU defeated Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon after losing a close match to No. 35 Vanderbilt earlier in the day.
With their 5-2 loss to Vanderbilt, the Hoosiers still have yet to defeat a ranked opponent. Meanwhile, IU’s 6-1 win over Saint Louis ensured the Hoosiers remain undefeated against teams not currently ranked in the top 50 nationally.
Though the Hoosiers were playing their third and fourth matches in the past eight days, they were still full of energy. The energy from the team was on full display in its loss to Vanderbilt as five out of six singles matches were decided by close third sets.
“We definitely held our own,” IU Coach Jeremy Wurtzman said. “Now we've got to be able to find a way to get through those tough moments.”
Senior Keivon Tabrizi came back from being down a break in all three of his sets, at one point even bringing his opponent to a match point, before ultimately losing 7-6, 6-3, 7-6.
The Hoosiers won two points from the singles performances of senior Raheel Manji and sophomore Zac Brodney.
Manji fought off No. 52-ranked Daniel Valent for a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory, while Brodney dropped his first set in a tiebreaker but bounced back to win 6-7, 6-4, 6-4.
“I knew I needed to step up and sacrifice as much as I could to get the team win,” Brodney said. “I knew my match was going to matter.”
While Brodney’s match helped keep the score close, he and Manji proved to be the only successful Hoosiers in the battle against the Commodores.
After freshman Brandon Lam dropped his match 7-5, 7-5, junior Antonio Cembellin was beaten as well in a back and forth 3-6, 6-3, 4-6 battle. Manji and Brondey’s wins fought off defeat for a little while, but Tabrizi and sophomore Bennett Crane both lost tight matches to clinch the 5-2 victory for Vanderbilt.
When IU returned to the court later that day to face Saint Louis, the result was much more favorable for the Hoosiers. IU won a competitive doubles point and didn’t have much trouble in singles. Cembellin stumbled near the end, losing in a match tiebreaker, but every other Hoosier picked up their singles point.
The lineup against Saint Louis was different from the lineup Wurtzman threw out against Vanderbilt. Brodney advanced to the second singles slot, where he only dropped two games in his entire match. Freshman Andrew Redding and sophomore William Piekarsky earned spots in the lineup, playing in only their second singles matches of the season.
“I’m improving every single day,” Piekarsky said. “Hopefully, I see myself working up into the lineup.”
The lineup change, though beneficial to some of the players who don’t regularly get court time, was necessary in order to deal with the fatigue IU has had to endure over the past eight days.
Crane’s back was visibly bothering him near the end of his match against Vanderbilt, and Tabrizi’s match ended with him struggling to deal with cramping in his leg.
“You've got to be careful with the body,” Wurtzman said. “We have a lot more tennis to play this season so we don’t want to overdo it with some of the guys.”
The team will have time to rest before its next match Friday when the Hoosiers take on Marquette and Drake in another doubleheader at the IU Tennis Center. IU now has a 4-2 home record and sits 7-5 overall on the season.
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