Ball State men’s tennis player Conner Andersen goes to return the ball during the doubles set against Eastern Illinois University on Jan. 20 at the Northwest YMCA of Muncie. Andersen and his partner won the set 6-2. Briana Hale, DN
Men’s tennis returns to home court to preserve perfect home record
Ball State men’s tennis (5-1) returns to action Saturday to host Cleveland State (5-2). The Cardinals faced the Vikings in the fall season at the Purdue Invite. After a doubleheader sweep in its last competition against IU Southeast, Ball State will come into the match with momentum, along with familiarity.
“Cleveland State is off to a very great start this year,” head coach Bill Richards said. “We won a close match with them at their home court last year, but they are definitely better this year. They didn’t lose any players that contributed significantly last year and they have a really good freshman. When you add a player to your team from the previous year without losing anyone, that makes them a lot stronger.”
Both the Cardinals and Vikings are perfect at home so far this season. The Vikings are 5-0 after beating Northern Illinois (4-3) and Case Western Reserve (6-1) this past weekend, while the Cardinals are 4-0 after sweeping IU Southeast.
“I think we are all looking forward to it, because we look at it as a measuring stick,” Richards said. “They will definitely be the best team we have played this year other than Indiana. Our five wins have been against teams that aren’t at the same level as Cleveland State.”
This is the first time the Cardinals are perfect at home at the start of the season since the 2013-14 season where they lost to the Vikings and Dartmouth in the first six home games.
In his last match, junior Marko Guzina found himself playing at the first position in singles. Guzina said the competition is similar to playing against players at the second position.
“It’s much more similar, just having to make sure to be more disciplined,” Guzina said. “Obviously, playing at the one you get the best players every time so you need to be always on top of your game.”
Last season, the Cardinals defeated the Vikings 4-3. To prepare for this week's match, Guzina said he’s going to work as hard as he can to improve.
“I want to do everything I can for match day,” Guzina said. “I’m just making sure I can execute all of my shots.”
Executing shots and playing sharp will be crucial against Cleveland State. The match starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Northwest YMCA.
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