Ball State men's tennis has a crucial weekend of play ahead of it. Entering Saturday's contest, the Cardinals (13-9, 2-3 MAC) sit in fourth place in the Mid-American Conference standings.
The team will face off against Binghampton University in the first of two conference opponents it has left before the MAC tournament. With that being said, there's a lot on the line.
“Everyone is looking at seeding for the tournament,” head coach Bill Richards said. “We’re in fourth place right now and to assure ourselves a spot, we have to win at least one of these matches this weekend. We know what we have to do.”
Advancing to the MAC tournament will add another intense moment to the season. Junior Tom Carney uses the end of the year tournament to reflect back on the season he's shared with his teammates.
“I will remember how much potential we have and how much fun I had playing No. 3 doubles with Chris,” Carney said. “However, the season isn’t really over. Who knows what we can do in the MAC tournament.”
The Cardinals need to win at least one of these matches to advance to the MAC tournament. Carney said the MAC tournament is a different beast than the season itself.
“We need to win at least one of these so we can get into the tournament,” Carney said. “If we win both of these matches, then that would be great.”
Freshman Chris Adams would agree with Carney. Adams and Carney have been doubles partners for 17 matches this season. Adams said this partnership has worked out well.
“We have been playing well together,” Adams said. “Hopefully we can keep it up this weekend.”
This weekend, Ball State faces Binghamton (4-16, 0-5 MAC) for the second time this season, and both of the teams have made lineup changes.
“No. 1 through No. 3 singles, Buffalo has made some lineup changes,” Richards said. “We made one. The last time we played Binghamton, we put ourselves in a hole. We didn’t win the doubles point and had to fight back and win four straight singles matches.”
The Bearcats come into this matchup with an imperfect record of 0-5 in MAC play. The last time these two teams squared off, the Cardinals came away with a slim 4-3 victory.
“I don’t care if we lose individually,” Carney said. “I just want to win as a team. That’s the accomplishment for every match.”
The final home match is April 22, and the Cardinals will face the defending MAC champions in the Buffalo Bulls (10-9, 3-2 MAC). The Bulls rank third in the MAC going into this weekend’s play. In last season’s match up, the Bulls beat the Cardinals, 6-1. Richards said the Bulls are a better team than Binghamton.
“Their only two losses in the conference are to Western Michigan, who has been the dominant team all year,” Richards said. “We know Buffalo will be a big challenge, but we have them at home. We have held our own against them at home in recent years.”
Ball State squares off against Binghampton at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon at the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center.