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The Indiana Daily Student

sports tennis

‘Nobody’s going to take what we have’: Indiana men’s tennis stays hot with 3-0 weekend

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After starting out the season a pedestrian 2-2, Indiana men’s tennis has fired off seven wins in a row following an undefeated weekend. The Hoosiers’ 9-2 record marks their best start since schedules were recorded on iuhoosiers.com in 2016. 

The first two games of the weekend were smooth sailing for the Hoosiers, starting with a 4-0 victory over Drake University on Feb. 9. The Hoosiers rolled through doubles with a 6-4 win from seniors Michael Andre and Ilya Tiraspolsky, and a 6-2 win from the pairing of sophomore Sam Landau and graduate student Carson Haskins.  

The singles matches were more of the same, with all three Hoosier victories needed to clinch the win finishing in two sets thanks to freshman Facundo Yunis, Andre and senior Jagger Saylor.  

In their Feb. 10 match against Brown University, the Hoosiers were again firing on all cylinders, tallying another shutout win. The match was played out to a 7-0 victory, starting with the Hoosiers coasting to yet another doubles point, this time from Landau/Saylor and Yunis/sophomore Luc Boulier winning 6-1 and 6-3, respectively. 

The six-court sweep on singles continued Indiana’s dominance, with all but two finishing in two sets. The winners included Yunis, Landau, Andre, Saylor, Tiraspolsky and freshman Nikola Kolyachev. 

Indiana’s Feb. 11 game against Middle Tennessee State University wasn’t a walk in the park like the first two — the Blue Raiders went 22-8 and beat the Hoosiers 4-1 in 2023. The dramatics started early with a purposely mistimed pregame huddle by Middle Tennessee to disrupt the announcements of the Indiana starting lineup, escalating tensions before the match had even started. 

The high-octane battle started with another doubles win for the Hoosiers, something they’ve achieved in all seven of their victories and a point of emphasis for Indiana head coach Jeremy Wurtzman. 

“At home, we got to win doubles points,” Wurtzman said. “If we can get that doubles point and keep rolling with it early on into singles, a lot of times we make it too hard for those guys to come back. That’s kind of what happened today.” 

The point came in a 2-0 sweep thanks to the familiar pairings of Tiraspolsky/Andre and Yunis/Boulier, who have combined for a 12-1 start in doubles this season. 

The singles matches became much more competitive than the doubles, with the  
Blue Raiders making a strong comeback win with two singles wins. 

However, the Hoosiers stole the show with marquee wins, including Indiana’s No. 71 Sam Landau defeating Middle Tennessee’s No. 18 Leo Raquin. Landau got off to a hot start, winning the first set 6-2 and taking a 2-0 advantage in the second. 

Raquin responded with six straight points to clinch the second set, silencing the attentive Hoosier crowd. In the third set, the two went blow for blow in a very even battle, before Landau was able to score several key break points and clinch the win 6-4 in the third set. Raquin marked the highest ranked player Landau has beaten in his young career. 

“He’s a really tricky opponent, does a lot of really good slices and makes you hit a lot of difficult shots,” Landau said. “You’re not going to win against the greatest opponents in two sets always. You got to go out for the third set, get the crowd behind you, win a couple of tight points... Last point, winner takes all, 5-4 you just got to win it.” 

Wurtzman noted after the match that Landau’s ability to come back is a testament to his skill and confidence. 

“It was about getting Sam to calm his nerves, relax a little bit, take his time, then he got an early break which helped him reset and get him ready for the third set,” Wurtzman said. “Sam’s the type of player that can come back from any point in any match. He knows that in the back of his head, and that helps him as well.” 

Another notable win came on Court 2, with Yunis defeating No. 79 Marcel Kamrowski in two sets, winning 6-4 in both. This marks the first ranked win in the freshman’s career, and puts him at 6-3 on the year, and 4-1 on Court 2. 

After the two critical wins, the matchup was still in the balance, with the Blue Raiders holding leads on the two remaining courts. Luckily for the Hoosiers, Saylor was able to come back from down 4-1 in the third set to draw a tiebreaker, where he won 7-4 to clinch a statement win, one that Landau called the biggest team win in the last four to five years.  

Landau said he’s seen growth from Saylor in the last year which has helped the team’s depth. 

“He had a tough year last year, was in and out, but this year he’s really solidified himself as a great player,” Landau said. 

The Hoosiers will now look to pack their rackets and momentum from the homestand, with their next three games on the road. The success of the team outside of the friendly confines of the IU Tennis Center has been virtually nonexistent, going a combined 1-19 in the last three seasons, including an 0-2 start to begin 2024. 

“For us to do what we want to do, we’re going to have to win some matches on the road,” Wurtzman said. “Hopefully we can pull through one of these upcoming matches.” 

Landau and the Hoosiers plan on bringing an aggressive mindset on the road with hopes of sparking their performance.  

“I think it’s just confidence,” Landau said. "If we can beat a team at home, why can’t we beat them away? Once you get confidence, you get things rolling, you can go to other people’s facilities and take everything they have. Nobody’s going to take what we have here, but we’re going to take everything they have and we’re going to give nothing back.” 

The Hoosiers will start the road trip outdoors in Space City against Rice University on Feb. 17, followed by the University of Louisville and the University of Southern Indiana on Feb. 24. 

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