He began his college career as a blue chip recruit, and senior Bennett Crane entered his final season with IU men's tennis as No. 66 in the country. It made him the highest ranked Hoosier in four years.
His name was found on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top-125 list twice last season, reaching as high as No. 96. Crane is the highest ranked Hoosier since Sam Monette in 2016, who opened the season at No. 27.
“It was a very big honor, and hopefully I'll try and keep raising that ranking,” Crane said.
Now, Crane is ranked No. 94, going 9-5 overall and 2-2 in dual matches.
The way Crane closed out the fall may be the biggest factor in his ranking. He placed second at the ITA Ohio Valley Regional tournament in October, defeating the tournament’s top-seed and then-No. 40 Athell Bennett from Purdue. The finish qualified Crane for the ITA National Fall Championships.
“He played so well in that tournament, came back from some pretty large deficits to win matches,” IU head coach Jeremy Wurtzman said.
To Wurtzman, it was Crane’s showing at the regionals that sent a message to his team more than the ranking did.
“I think it gave us a little bit of credibility of what we're doing,” Wurtzman said.
Heading into the season, Crane was a combined 53-44 overall in his previous three years, and 33-32 in dual match play. Crane recognized his earlier seasons haven't ended as well as they began.
“I guess I'm kind of known for having a very good fall and then maybe my spring isn't as good,” Crane said. “So it was really cool to have qualified for nationals and done so well at regionals.”
Aside from being the Hoosiers’ top singles player, Crane is part of the top doubles pair for IU alongside fellow senior Zac Brodney. Crane and Brodney came to IU their freshman year and were each other’s first doubles partners.
As freshmen, the duo went 9-11 and then 6-6 as juniors. So far this season they are 5-3 overall, 3-2 in dual match play and have taken down two ranked pairs, then-No. 21 David Stevenson and Oscar Cutting from the University of Memphis and No. 20 Pavel Motl and Stijn Slump of Middle Tennessee State University.
Crane and Brodney were roommates as freshmen, and continue to live together this season.
“He's really become a much more well-rounded individual,” Brodney said. “It's paid dividends for him, both in the classroom, socially and on the tennis court. It's been great to be able to witness his growth over the past four years.”
Before coming to IU, Crane was a prep-star in Huntersville, North Carolina, and a two-time National Doubles Champion. As a member of Wurtzman’s first recruiting class, Crane was an important part.
“Bennett was a blue chip recruit coming in, and that's something that was rare at the time for us to get,” Wurtzman said. “He was kind of the top prospect that we went after, and he's proven to be that. He's been a proven winner over his four years here at any spot that we put him at.”