Men’s tennis will play their last doubleheader Friday when they take on Marquette and Drake in their final home matches before they travel to Evanston a week later to kick off Big Ten play.
The Hoosiers have had a season of back-and-forth results so far, as they have not yet been able to put together any sort of streak.
Coming off a dominant victory over Saint Louis University, two wins this weekend would give IU three consecutive wins for the first time all season.
The Hoosiers will start their day off with a match against Marquette at noon. The Golden Eagles have only lost twice all year, but both of those losses were road matches against Big Ten schools.
Meanwhile, Drake is coming off back-to-back losses which knocked the Bulldogs out of the national rankings, where they were previously No. 49.
Drake’s fall from the rankings bodes well for the Hoosiers, since IU has yet to defeat a ranked team all season. Regardless, IU coach Jeremy Wurtzman said he is more focused on his team’s play than the rankings.
“It’s very early, and the rankings are all playing out,” Wurtzman said. “I feel like some of our wins have been very solid, as well as some of the losses against very, very strong teams.”
Although IU has a record of 0-5 against teams currently nationally ranked in the top 50, Wurtzman said that several matches have come down to a matter of a couple points, which could influence not only IU’s record but also its ranking.
“It’s not like we’re very far. We win two points and our rankings skyrocket,” Wurtzman said. “I’m pleased at the level that we’re playing at and where we are, but at the end of the day, you got to win them.”
The matches against the top teams may not have gone their way so far, but Wurtzman and his team plan to use the two matches this weekend to prove they deserve recognition.
“This is a really big opportunity for us to try to get our name in the rankings,” sophomore Payam Ahmadi said. “We’ve gotten really, really close to some of these top teams, and I think you’ll see us get in the headlines for a big upset really soon.”
The Hoosiers will have several opportunities to prove themselves in the near future with Big Ten play right around the corner. In the meantime, the team is focusing on their Friday opponents.
One major factor for the success of the team this weekend will be the doubles points. IU has been inconsistent with this early point all year, claiming it in exactly half of their matches.
Wurtzman has thrown out 11 different combinations of players this season, which has given several Hoosiers who do not regularly crack the singles lineup the opportunity to contribute.
“I love doubles. I think it comes to me more naturally,” said Ahmadi, who holds a 5-2 record on the year in doubles sets. “I’ve been able to step up when I’ve needed to, so whatever my coach tells me is where I’ll be ready for.”
While the doubles lineup is up in the air for this Friday, the singles lineup has been fairly consistent all year. The main core of players will likely be in the lineup against Marquette and Drake. Both senior Keivon Tabrizi and sophomore Bennett Crane are expected to play, despite coming off the court this past Sunday with leg and back injuries, respectively.
Friday’s doubleheader will be the last time the Hoosiers will have to face two opponents in one day during the regular season.
“It’s going to be two matches, and most of the guys are going to have to play a little more tennis than they want to,” Ahmadi said. “But it’s really important for us to get a good start going into Big Ten play.”
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