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The Indiana Daily Student

sports tennis

Indiana men’s tennis continues second half slide in 1-1 weekend

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After one of the best starts in program history, Indiana men’s tennis appeared to lose its magic after a disappointing loss to Nebraska, a team it was neck and neck with in the Big Ten standings as the conference tournament approaches.  

Still, the Hoosiers picked up two wins against underperforming teams in Wisconsin and Butler University. Indiana moves to 15-9 on the season and 3-4 in conference play. 

The three-game home stand started with a makeup match April 10 against Butler, where the Hoosiers cruised to a 4-0 victory. Indiana secured the doubles point with the help of seniors Ilya Tiraspolsky/Jagger Saylor winning 6-4, along with sophomore Sam Landau/freshman Nikola Kolyachev winning 6-2.  

The Hoosiers decided not to play out the six singles courts, with just three wins needed to end the match. The 3-0 singles finish came at the hands of Landau (6-2, 6-2), Tiraspolsky (6-3, 6-2) and sophomore Deacon Thomas (6-1, 6-2). The Hoosiers did what they were supposed to, as the Bulldogs are just 9-16 on the season. 

The April 12 match against Nebraska was not as smooth sailing, as the Hoosiers lost 5-2. Indiana fell back into its recent form of winning the doubles match before getting manhandled in singles.  

The losses were from the top down, with Landau continuing his recent string of defeats, falling 6-4 and 7-2 in the tiebreaker to No. 119 Calvin Mueller. Landau saw his ranking fall from No. 55 on March 19 to No. 90 as of April 16.  

Both Saylor and senior Michael Andre also lost in two sets, with Andre falling 6-1 and 6-2, followed by Saylor losing 6-4 and 6-3. Freshman Facundo Yunis, playing on Court 2, was the only bright spot for the Hoosiers, winning in two sets, 7-5 and 6-2.  

This led to the match coming down to Courts 5 and 6, the only courts to go to three sets, and the Hoosiers did not answer the bell. Thomas lost 6-4 after winning 6-2 in the second set to clinch the match for the Cornhuskers, followed by Tiraspolsky losing 6-2 in the third set.  

The loss was costly, as Indiana is now two spots behind Nebraska in the Big Ten standings. 

Indiana head coach Jeremy Wurtzman was disappointed in the team’s performance but knows the Hoosiers were extremely close to coming out on top. 

“Friday stunk,” Wurtzman said. “With winning the doubles point and the way we started in singles, I thought it was going to go our way. There were so many moments in that match where we had the chance to pull ahead.” 

The Hoosiers redeemed themselves to an extent April 14 against a 1-19 Wisconsin team to stave off the panic alarms, coming out with a 5-2 victory.  

Once again, the Hoosiers swept the doubles point, this time in one court due to an injury-related forfeit, with Landau and fifth year Carson Haskins winning 6-2. Wurtzman spoke with the team after doubles to make sure Indiana finished what it started, unlike in previous matches where it let doubles wins slip away. 

“We really talked about having to finish the matches,” Wurtzman said. “We just have to close the door. We weren’t able to do that Friday, so I really wanted that to be the focus today.” 

This time, the Hoosiers closed that door, winning the three courts they needed to seal the victory, along with a forfeit win on Court 6. Yunis took the Court 1 responsibility again for this match and answered the call with two dominant set wins (6-0, 6-1). The win moved his Court 1 record to an even 4-4 and gave him a 3-0 record on the week. 

“Facu has developed so much this year, and we never lost confidence in some of those losses — they were all close matches,” Wurtzman said. “Today was a great effort. He was so focused on playing great tennis for himself. It was awesome for Facu to get that win and to keep moving forward, and hopefully he can finish strong next weekend and into the Big Ten tourney.” 

Landau also cruised to a two-set win (6-1, 6-3), which was all the Hoosiers needed for the victory due to the forfeit. The Badgers put some dents in the Hoosiers’ armor with wins on Courts 4 and 5, defeating Tiraspolsky in two sets (6-4, 6-2) and sophomore Luc Boulier in three (4-6, 6-1, 10-3).  

The attention then turned to Court 3, where Saylor looked to get a key victory in a tight knit battle. Saylor got up early in the first set but allowed the lead to dissipate before losing 6-4.  

The senior than began to get down on himself, muttering phrases such as, “It’s so embarrassing how bad I am.”  

Saylor then turned the page with a 6-4 win of his own before the tie-breaking set went down to the wire. Saylor began the set with a 9-5 lead before Wisconsin freshman Matthew Fullerton responded with three straight points as he was down to his last breath.  

But Saylor held strong, earning the critical 10th point to end the match with a 5-2 finish for the Hoosiers. This may not have been a critical win for the Hoosiers, but it was for Saylor, who had a disappointing 6-11 record before this match. 

“It was awesome that he was able to finish that with a win in kind of dramatic fashion, especially on senior day,” Wurtzman said. “I hope he will remember that because he has had some tough matches this year, but some really crucial wins for us as well.” 

The Hoosiers will now enter the final weekend of the regular season with key seeding determinations to be had, facing off against Northwestern and Illinois on the road. Wurtzman discussed how the team’s focus has to be on the first match of the weekend against Northwestern. 

“Northwestern’s a match that we’re going to realistically be in, and it’s going to be very tight,” Wurtzman said. “It would be nice to get that one and then go swing away at Illinois.” 

The Hoosiers will start the weekend road trip at 6 p.m. Friday, at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center. 

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