The Indiana men’s tennis team rounded out the regular season with matches against No. 52 Illinois and No. 28 Northwestern on the road this weekend.
The Hoosiers came up short in both matches, losing to the Illini 3-4 and the Wildcats 0-4. With the two losses, Indiana finished with a 5-17 overall record, 0-9 Big Ten record and 12-match losing streak to wrap up regular season play.
Friday’s match against Illinois was a back-and-forth affair. The Hoosiers got off to an early lead after winning the doubles point, thanks to a 6-1 win from Indiana senior Patrick Fletchall and sophomore Ilya Tiraspolsky at the No. 1 spot. The pairing of sophomore Michael Andre and senior Luka Vukovic secured the doubles point at the No. 3 spot with a 6-3 win.
However, Illinois came out firing at the start of singles play. The top three Illini singles players — sophomore Hunter Heck, junior Siphosothando Montsi and graduate student Olivier Stuart — won each of their matches to grab a sudden 3-1 lead over the Hoosiers.
From there, Andre and Tiraspolsky were each able to notch victories at the No. 5 and No. 6 singles spots, respectively, to bring the Hoosiers back within striking distance and even the match. The deciding point came down to the No. 4 singles contest.
Indiana senior Vikash Singh and Illinois grad student Alex Brown battled tirelessly in a three-set match, and Brown closed it out with a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 win to seal Illinois’ victory.
Sunday’s match against Northwestern proved to be much less competitive than the thriller against Illinois.
This time around, Northwestern grabbed an early 1-0 lead after wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions clinched the doubles point. Unlike Friday’s match, the leading Wildcats did not let the Hoosiers crawl back into the match.
Northwestern seniors Steven Forman, Simen Bratholm and Trice Pickens swept the top-three singles matches to take the overall match and hand Indiana its final regular season loss. Forman defeated Indiana senior Carson Haskins 6-0, 6-2, Bratholm topped Fletchall 7-6, 6-1 and Pickens beat Vukovic 6-3, 6-1.
Indiana will look to rebound from the disappointing end to the regular season as the No. 10-seed in the 10-team Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers will take on No. 7-seeded Penn State in a play-in on Thursday.
Last time the Hoosiers faced the Nittany Lions, they fell 3-4 in one of their most evenly-matched outings of the season. If the Hoosiers win, they will go on to face No. 2 seed Michigan, against whom they lost 1-6 on April 10.