The Indiana men’s tennis team traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, for its final nonconference match of the season and last away match before a three-match home stretch.
The Hoosiers continued their skid of away losses, with Wednesday’s loss coming at the hands of No. 41 Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt was Indiana’s third consecutive Intercollegiate Tennis Association ranked opponent and fifth of the season.
The round of doubles matches got off to a promising start, as two Hoosier pairs jumped out to early leads. The No. 2 team of sophomore Ilya Tiraspolsky and senior Patrick Fletchall led 4-3, but Commodore freshman Michael Ross and junior Siim Troost notched three unanswered games to secure the match.
Indiana sophomore Michael Andre and junior Luka Vukovic maintained their lead in the No. 3 doubles match to win 6-3. However, the loss by Indiana seniors Carson Haskins and Vikash Singh at the No. 1 spot gave Vanderbilt the doubles point and an early 1-0 lead heading into singles play.
The momentum strayed away from the Hoosiers for the remainder of the match, as the team won just one set in all of singles play.
Andre topped Troost 6-4 to start, but he could not get Indiana on the board since the match was ruled as incomplete in the middle of the second set once Vanderbilt had clinched four points.
Neither Singh nor Fletchall had the chance to complete their comeback attempts after falling in their first sets because of Vanderbilt’s victories at the No. 1, 3 and 5 singles spots.
The Hoosiers will have a chance to regain their footing and bounce back in Bloomington over the next two weekends. The home setting has been more favorable for Indiana, which holds a 5-4 record at the IU Tennis Center this season compared to an 0-4 away record.
The team will have to rely on more than just the home court advantage, though, as the Big Ten Conference is one of the strongest in all of Division I men’s tennis this season.
Two teams — Ohio State and Michigan — are ranked in the ITA’s top five, with the Buckeyes coming in at No. 3 and the Wolverines at No. 5. Four other teams in the Big Ten — Northwestern, Illinois, Wisconsin and Nebraska — also made the top-75 cut at No. 20, 52, 62 and 74, respectively.
Indiana will face in-state rival Purdue on Saturday before turning its attention to the powerhouse of Ohio State on April 1.
Four of the six Buckeyes singles players are ranked in the top 65, with three of those competitors taking the No. 7, 10 and 11 spots. They also have the top-ranked doubles team in the country in the pairing of junior Robert Cash and senior Matej Vocel, and an additional pairing of junior Justin Boulais and senior James Trotter, which is ranked No. 10.
The Hoosiers have undoubtedly played their best tennis at home this season, and two consecutive weekends of rivalries and ranked opponents will prove the ultimate test of their home-court advantage.