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IU men's tennis secures first road win of season in Big Ten opener against Purdue



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IU senior Bennett Crane returns the ball in a match against Purdue University Feb. 22 at Schwartz Tennis Center. IU defeated Purdue 4 to 1. Joy Burton

IU men’s tennis took down rival Purdue 4-1 on Saturday in its first Big Ten conference matchup, the first win on the road this season. 

The Hoosiers, now 6-3, took the doubles point to begin the match, the fourth match in a row they’ve started with a lead. 

IU’s top pair, Zac Brodney and Bennett Crane, debuted on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top 60 this week at No. 42. The two seniors have been playing together since their freshman year.

“We know each other's games so well that it just kind of flows,” Brodney said. “Going to keep trying to climb the rankings and hopefully make NCAAs at the end of the year.”

They came out strong Saturday, handily defeating seniors Athell Bennett and Julian Saborio 6-2. 

“That was just great team work and they’re just really playing good solid doubles, hitting the ball the right way and really being aggressive in how they're playing,” IU head coach Jeremy Wurtzman said. 

Brodney and Crane have won their last four doubles matches, are 6-2 in dual match play this season and 8-3 overall. 

Senior Payam Ahmadi and sophomore Patrick Fletchall also won their match 6-2, while sophomore Carson Haskins and senior William Piekarsky trailed 4-3 when doubles play ended. 

Winning first sets have been a problem for the team as of late. IU dropped 10 of its 12 first sets prior to sweeping Xavier University on Monday. On Saturday, the team split the six first sets against Purdue. 

Freshman Luka Vukovic was the first to finish singles play, winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. Vukovic is now 4-1 in dual matches and has won three in a row. 

IU held a 2-1 lead with all four remaining matches in the third set. 

Brodney had possibly one of his most competitive matches of the season against Mateo Julio. Brodney won the first set 6-4 and lost the second set in a tiebreak 7-6 (7-2). He then finished off the third set 6-4 moments before sophomore Vikash Singh did as well.

Singh dropped his first set 6-3. He said his coaches gave him adjustments to make after the first set to hit the ball deeper. He made those adjustments and took the second and third sets 6-4 to finish off the match for the Hoosiers. 

“Finishing last man, clinching for the team, it really felt great,” Singh said. 

The only match that featured ranked singles players went unfinished after Singh clinched the win for IU. No. 86 Crane went up against No. 20 Bennett. Crane’s first-set issues continued — he has yet to win a first set this season despite being 10-5 overall. Crane rallied back from down 5-3 in the second set to force a tiebreak and led the third set 4-2 when play ended.  

With four wins in a row now against the Boilermakers, no Hoosier currently on the team has lost a rivalry game. 

“It's a great moment for our team this year and another good, solid win that we can add to our record,” Wurtzman said.

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