Indiana men’s tennis competed in its fourth preseason tournament over the weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. The invite consisted of an A, B and C draw for doubles and an A and B bracket on the singles side.
Senior Carson Haskins and junior Luka Vukovic teamed up for a first-place finish in the doubles A bracket. The pairing handily won its first two sets against the University of Toledo and the University of Louisville with scores of 6-1 and 6-3, respectively. After reaching the finals, Haskins and Vukovic were champions by default after the team from the University of Kentucky withdrew due to injury.
Haskins and Vukovic have spent the majority of the preseason playing doubles together. Head coach Jeremy Wurtzman emphasized the importance of chemistry and repetition of playing together when it comes to being successful as a doubles team.
“Their personalities mesh very well together, so they’ve started to figure out exactly what their partner does in the high-pressure moments of a match,” Wurtzman said.
He said the pair has always been able to return the ball at a very high rate and credited both Haskins’s and Vukovic’s impressive serves and ability to put away volleys as skills the two have improved greatly from the previous season.
In the singles A draw, redshirt freshman Michael Andre advanced to the finals and won a hard-fought 6-3, 7-5 match against the University of Kentucky’s Yasha Zemel. Sophomore Ilya Tiraspolsky clinched the B bracket championship with a three-set win over Purdue’s Tomasz Dudek with scores of 6-0, 4-6 and 6-2.
The second-year teammates notched a runner-up finish in the Drobac/Beeman Invite two weeks ago thanks to stellar doubles performances, but their collective singles prowess was on full display in Louisville.
Although they are underclassmen, Wurtzman said both Andre and Tiraspolsky have high levels of personal confidence and are mentally mature.
“When the match gets close, they really own their games and know what they can do,” Wurtzman said. “They really have no weaknesses.”
Wurtzman said the many weeks of preseason experience helped Andre and Tiraspolsky solidify their groundstrokes and grow the young players’ trust in themselves.
So far, the Hoosiers have shown steady improvement in the past four weeks of consecutive preseason tournaments, with the Louisville Invite being their most successful in terms of wins.
Starting Nov. 4, the team will compete in a four-day tournament in East Lansing, Michigan, which includes almost every other team from the Big Ten. Wurtzman said that he is looking forward to facing the conference competition.
“It’s going to be really beneficial for these guys to play against the teams that we’re gonna see a lot of in the spring,” Wurtzman said. “We are very excited.”