IU men’s tennis played in the Big Ten Tournament last week in Lincoln, Nebraska. The team picked up a 4-0 win against Wisconsin on Thursday, but was defeated 4-0 by No. 17 Illinois in the second round on Friday.
IU started the match against Wisconsin by securing the doubles point. Senior Andrew Redding and junior Patrick Fletchall won 6-4 at the No. 1 spot, while freshman Ilya Tiraspolsky and graduate student William Piekarsky won 6-3 at the No. 3 spot.
Wurtzman pointed out the team going out and winning the doubles point. The Hoosiers did not capture it in their last matchup with the Badgers on March 26.
“We got off to a great start in doubles, and on all three courts, we went up early,” head coach Jeremy Wurtzman said. “I think having that was a big reason for our success against Wisconsin.”
IU won at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 singles to execute a clean sweep over Wisconsin. Crane picked up a 6-1, 6-4 victory at No. 1 singles, while Tiraspolsky won 7-6 (7-0), 6-2 at No. 5 singles. Redding clinched the match at No. 2 singles with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) win.
“When we won the doubles point, and Wisconsin knowing that we were able to win five singles matches against them the last time we played, I think that made it really hard for them,” Wurtzman said. “They knew it was going to be a long day after that.”
With the win over Wisconsin, IU advanced to the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals. The team faced Illinois, who received a bye to the second round. IU had previously lost 4-0 to Illinois a week earlier on April 24 in the team’s last match of the regular season.
“The biggest thing going into it was the belief,” Wurtzman said. “We talked a lot about believing that we could hang with Illinois and go into that match with the mindset that we’d be able to win.”
Illinois, however, got off to a hot start and swept IU 4-0. The Fighting Illini captured the doubles point with wins at the No. 1 and No. 3 spots. Fletchall and Redding fell 6-2 at No. 1 doubles to the No. 28 pair of Alex Brown and Zeke Clark. Piekarsky and Tiraspolsky lost 6-2 at No. 3 doubles, while the No. 2 doubles match with Crane and Vukovic went unfinished.
“Within the first 10 minutes we knew that Illinois was playing at a really high level,” Wurtzman said. “They played incredibly.”
Illinois secured wins at No. 1, No. 5 and No. 6 singles, each within two sets. Both Crane and Tiraspolsky lost 6-3, 6-2 at No. 1 and No. 5 singles. Fletchall fell 6-1, 6-4 at No. 6 singles.
Redding came out victorious in his first set 6-4 against No. 101 Siphosothando Montsi in No. 2 singles. His match, along with Haskins at No. 3 singles and Vukovic at No. 4 singles, was left unfinished.
“I thought that we did a better job than we did a week ago with staying in some matches, but overall Illinois played at a very, very high level,” Wurtzman said. “We weren’t able to match that.”
Although IU fell to Illinois, Wurtzman focused on the Fighting Illini’s successful season.
“Illinois just won the Big Ten Championship, beating Ohio State in the finals, so they’re obviously having a great year,” he said. “It was really all hats off to them.”
The NCAA Tournament will conclude the 2020-21 men’s tennis season. The tournament will take place from May 20-29 in Orlando, Florida. IU will learn whether or not it made the tournament after the selections are revealed on May 3 on NCAA.com.