Ball State splits Spartan Invitational with Michigan State, Niagara

<p>Graphic by <strong>Emily Wright,DN</strong></p>

Graphic by Emily Wright,DN

This wasn’t just a normal weekend playing tennis for freshman Vince Orlando. He was playing against his father, Gene Orlando, who has been the head coach of Michigan State’s team since 1992. 

Ball State Men’s Tennis (2-2, 0-0 MAC) split its doubleheader in East Lansing, Michigan, losing 4-2 to Michigan State (2-0, 0-0 Big 10) and defeating Niagara (2-1, 1-0 MAAC) 5-0. Head coach Bill Richards praised Orlando for playing well under that added pressure.

“He played really well and came up big,” Richards said. “Yes, it is a weird dynamic, but he has been doing well all year, so he certainly stood out.”

In the first match against the Spartans, Orlando was a part of the doubles win with junior Chris Adams, winning the match, 6-1. The Cardinal doubles won two of their three matches against Michigan State. The difference was in singles with the Spartans winning four of the five matches. Orlando was the lone singles win, coming out on top, 2-0. 

Richards said he loved the energy his doubles came out with Saturday. They won the doubles point in both matchups. 

“We played really soundly in doubles,” Richards said. “They had a lot of energy and a lot of fire and really took it to them. They played extremely well in all positions, so that was a positive for sure.”

In the matchup against Niagara, the Cardinals had to weather a storm of injuries and move guys around to get over the hump and beat Eagles. Sophomore Danilo Kovacevic was dealing with an abdomen injury, and Adams couldn’t continue, as he was sick, meaning the team was thin in singles. 

Richards said he was proud of the guys who stepped up against Niagara. Freshman Abe Wojtalik came in and was sweeping his single before it was declared unfinished, and Bryce Bonin won his single, 2-0. 

“We had to dig deep into our other guys, and they all pushed everyone in the lineup,” Richards said. “They did really well.” 

While Richards said he was disappointed after the loss to Michigan State, he believes there are a lot of positives his team can build on moving forward. Now, it is about getting everyone healthy for next weekend.

“There were a lot of positives today,” Richards said. “I am disappointed we couldn’t find a way to squeeze through that Michigan State match. We have some tough matches coming up, and we are concerned about health status, but we have to get everyone healthy for next weekend.”

The Cardinals play next weekend back at home against Wright State Saturday and Eastern Illinois Sunday.

Contact Ian Hansen with comments at imhansen@bsu.edu or on Twitter @ianh_2. 

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