Going into Sunday's match at No. 47 Northwestern University, Ball State men's tennis coach Bill Richards knew his team would be challenged by stiff competition. Talking after the match, Richards didn't seem surprised by the results.
"This was a tough match to start the year on," he said. "We will just have to get back to practice and continue to improve."
The Cardinals (0-1) didn't manage a win in singles or doubles play en route to their 7-0 loss to the Wildcats.
After losing its three doubles matches to start the day, Ball State went into singles trailing 1-0. From there, the struggles continued for the Cardinals as three of their six singles competitors went down in straight sets.
There were some bright spots for the Cardinals, who had three men involved in tightly contested matches. Junior Eduardo Pavia, freshman Alexandre Brym and sophomore Andres Monroy all went three sets with their Northwestern opponents.
"I don't feel bad about my play," Pavia said. "You don't want to come in and lose 0-7 and think, ‘Why did I even come?' I am playing a lot better than I was from the fall, so it was a good match."
Despite the poor results, Richards was pleased with what he saw from a competitive standpoint.
"For the most part, there was a high level of play and good tennis," Richards said. "We competed and played hard, so that's all you can ask for."
Some of the players shared their coach's enthusiasm when looking at the team.
"We have high expectations for sure and I think we can be really good," Pavia said. "It is only a matter of putting the pieces together and winning matches."
Ball State faces another short week of practice before Friday's doubleheader against the University of Dayton and Valparaiso University, but Richards plans to take full advantage of it.
"Everyone has different situations with practice over break and aren't at the same level," Richards said. "Once we have more time to prepare, we'll get the better results."
With more practices under his belt and the pieces of his team coming together, Richards remains optimistic about the future.
"Considering our youth with two freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors making up our top six, there is a lot to build upon," Richards said.