Tough challenge ahead for Cardinals

For the Ball State men's tennis team, home might not be so sweet this weekend.

Instead, Muncie will be the site of the team's toughest challenge this year when the Cards (2-0 overall) host sixth-ranked Illinois Saturday in the Illini's season-opener.

Head coach Bill Richards said he hopes his team will take advantage of the chance to play one of the nation's best teams.

"We recruit based on giving our players the opportunity to compete at the highest level; we can't be intimidated by them and their ranking," Richards said. "You have to accept the fact that you are underdogs at every position."

The Illini are led by sophomores Amer Delic and Phil Stolt, currently ranked No. 9 and No. 23 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

Delic posted a 13-3 record during fall play, defeating several highly ranked players in the process.

Ball State opened its season with 6-1 and 7-0 wins against Butler and Valparaiso, respectively, last Saturday.

Richards said he was pleased the team showed "a lot more positives than negatives" during the matches, and the team will play the same lineup against Illinois as it did against Butler, with seniors Jason Pressel and Andrew Seni along with junior Chris Varga occupying the team's top three spots.

Seni and Varga both opened the season flawlessly, posting 2-0 and 1-0 records in last weekend's matches.

Pressel lost his first match to Butler's Brandon Currie 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, but defeated Valparaiso's Nate Buckert 6-0, 6-2 in his second match.

Ball State will face Illinois at 1 p.m. at the Muncie YMCA Indoor Tennis Center.


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