MEN'S TENNIS: Ball State hopes home court advantage helps in MAC Championships

Cardinals looking for 20th conference title this weekend

The setting couldn't be better for the Ball State University men's tennis team to add a 20th Mid-American Conference Championship to its mantle.

Not only is Ball State hosting the MAC Tournament, but the team comes in as the No. 2 seed.

After getting a bye in the first round, Ball State will face Western Michigan University at 2 p.m.

On April 10, the Cardinals pulled out a 4-3 win over the Broncos, last year's MAC champions.

In that first matchup, the Cardinals traveled to Kalamazoo, Mich., but the team hopes its home crowd can help secure a similar result this time around.

"The crowd will be a big factor because we all have got a lot of people coming to support us," sophomore Cliff Morrison said. "They will give us an extra bit of firepower."

The Cardinals finished MAC play with a 4-1 record, but it only takes one loss to knock them out of contention for the NCAA Tournament.

"The biggest thing is to have positive energy and encourage yourself and your teammates," Morrison said. "There is a huge difference between winning your match as an individual and then standing by yourself rather than winning your match and then standing on the sidelines encouraging your teammates. It takes four points to win these matches."

With such a young team, the Cardinals will depend on veteran leadership from junior Eduardo Pavia to get them through the tournament.

Pavia was recently named as the MAC Player of the Week after defeating Maksym Bartiuk of Northern Illinois University. The win was part of Pavia's 18-3 record on the season, and he finished a perfect 4-0 record in conference play.

Morrison said the tournament will come down to who can be the toughest when the match is at stake.

"It is not all about talent," he said. "When everything is on the line, it comes down to performing on that day and who handles the pressure the best. There is nothing to lose, so you just have to go for it."

Members of Ball State's team have said all year that the pieces and talent are there to win the championship. Today will be the first step towards showing how ready they are.

"I am 100 percent sure that if we play like we are capable of playing, we will be able to win this tournament," Morrison said.