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IU men's tennis brace for more ranked matchups



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Then-sophomore Bennett Crane reaches for a forehand during his 6-2, 6-7, 4-6 singles loss against Wisconsin last season at the IU Tennis Center. Sam House Buy Photos

The IU men’s tennis team is hitting its stride at the right part of the season.

Following a four-match losing streak, IU opened up Big Ten play with two wins over Purdue and No. 41 Northwestern, as well as a nonconference victory over University of Washington.

This marked the first time IU had beaten Northwestern since April 22, 2012, almost seven years ago. IU Head Coach Jeremy Wurtzman was ecstatic about the win.

“We finally got over that hump of getting on the winning side of that match,” Wurtzman said. “Great way to start the weekend.”

Despite all the excitement and celebration from the wins last weekend, IU has to regain focus for another pair of ranked matchups.

This poses a rare home and away weekend for the Hoosiers. No. 38 Texas Tech University will travel to Bloomington for a match with IU at 6 p.m. Friday. Then IU has to go on the road to Champaign, Illinois to face No. 11 Illinois.

This weekend features arguably the toughest matches IU has had this year: not only does it play two ranked opponents, but it has to travel in the span of two days.

“Illinois is one of the top teams in the country,” Wurtzman said. “We know it won’t be easy but know we can stick with them.”

Illinois is the second-highest ranked Big Ten team in the country behind No. 1 Ohio State, but Wurtzman believes his team can keep the match close.

Wurtzman said all the pressure is on Illinois on Sunday because they’re at home playing against a team many expect them to beat.

Wurtzman simply wants his team to swing freely and he knows the confidence from a three-match win streak will allow them to battle until the end.

After these two matches, the Hoosiers get a much-needed rest with spring break looming next week.

They will get two weeks off until they come back home to battle Michigan State and No. 14 Michigan in back-to-back days on March 30 and 31, respectively.

But before the Hoosiers can enjoy spring break, they have two more important matches this weekend that could have postseason implications.

IU has a chance to start the season 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since the 2010-11 season. That season it finished 23-8 en route to a NCAA tournament appearance, somewhere it hopes to be following the end of the regular season.

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