In a match with 16 sets, it all came down to the final one for IU men’s tennis to claim the win against the University of Memphis on Friday. The Hoosiers defeated the Tigers 4-3.
The win marks the fourth consecutive year that IU has started the season 2-0 and was a measure of revenge for the Hoosiers. Memphis had won the last two meetings between the teams in 2017 and 2018. IU now leads the series 4-2.
Senior Bennett Crane, IU’s top singles player and No. 66 in the nation, fought back after losing the first set to Memphis’ James Story. By the time their match headed into the third set, every other match had ended. With both teams and the entire IU Tennis Center crowd watching, Crane and Story battled for the deciding point.
Crane said this was only the second time he had a 3-3 clinching match and had all eyes on him.
“It was a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement, a lot of adrenaline,” Crane said. “I loved it.”
The two battled back and forth until Crane broke Story’s serve to go up 4-2 and put the match away 6-3.
Seconds later, Crane was mobbed by his teammates as they tackled and piled on him.
“It hurt,” Crane said. “When you have 10 or 15 guys up on top of you, it's all adrenaline at that point. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Crane was held out of singles play last week against Ball State University. Crane said he has been dealing with some shoulder problems, but nothing serious, and was being saved for this match.
Crane's battle back after being down one mirrored IU’s night, going down 1-0 after the doubles matches.
Despite not earning the point, Crane and doubles partner senior Zac Brodney defeated Oscar Cutting and David Stevenson, the No. 21 doubles pair in the nation. IU head coach Jeremy Wurtzman said Crane and Brodney have grown up together during the four years they've played together.
"It's nice to now see them beat one of the best teams in college tennis," Wurtzman said.
As the singles matches progressed, neither team could get a real advantage.
Brodney was the first to finish, winning his match 6-3, 6-1, evening things up 1-1. Minutes later, Memphis retook the lead, only for Vikash Singh’s 6-2, 6-1 win to tie the match at 2. Carson Haskins gave IU a brief 3-2 lead, winning 6-1, 6-3, before Memphis tied it up again.
The teams also faced each other in October at the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships, splitting two singles and two doubles matches.
IU’s record will be tested when it heads down to the University of Texas at Austin to face the defending National Champion No. 2 Longhorns next weekend as part of the ITA kickoff.
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