IUPUI (3-4, 0-0 Horizon) came into Friday’s match following an upset win over Southern Methodist while riding a three-game win streak.
Ball State Men's Tennis (8-1, 0-0 MAC), in the midst of one of their longest win streaks in team history, have not lost since the first match of the season, and they’ve beaten every year (not counting 2020) since the series began in 2006.
Every player who saw time on a court for the Cardinals during the weekend won a match, with many of them winning more than one.
“Physically, that's no challenge at all,” Richards said. “You've got to be able to play back-to-back days and back-to-back matches. Two days rest in between matches is more than adequate.”
On Friday, the Cardinals didn't take long to beat the Jaguars, winning the doubles point before the third match finished and won five of the six points at singles in straight sets.
Senior Chris Adams (6-2, 6-0) and sophomores Sajin Smith (6-1, 6-2) and Eli Herran (6-0, 6-2) all quickly defeated their opponents, winning all of their sets by at least four games. De Negri won his match at No.1 singles, with both sets finishing 6-3 in favor of him.
Kovacevic and sophomore Vince Orlando had to fight a little harder for their victories, winning the first set with a 7-6 tiebreak. While Kovacevic finished off his opponent 6-2 in the second set at No. 2 singles, Orlando dropped his second set 6-2 but managed to seal the Ball State sweep, winning 10-7 in the third set super-tiebreaker.
Despite being much closer on the scoreboard in the singles matches, the second match had the same outcome — a Cardinals victory.
The lineup on Monday was similar to the first, except for junior Danilo Kovacevic and Thibault de Negri swapping positions at singles.
It didn’t take long for Ball State to get on the board Monday with the doubles teams of Kovacevic and Herran and Adams and Orlando both winning 6-1 at No. 3 and No. 1 doubles, respectively.
“One of the biggest factors today was No. 1 doubles,” Richards said. We were able to turn it around today after we were about to lose No. 1 doubles on Fridays and were down 5-2. Orlando and Adams struggled in that match and made the doubles point relatively close. We were able to come out and turn that around today, and I thought that was the biggest factor giving us the momentum through the day.”
Herran was the first to win his match at No. 6 singles (6-0, 6-1), with Kovacevic soon following suit at No. 1 singles (6-0, 6-4).
De Negri sealed the Cardinals' victory after winning his match at No. 2 singles (6-2, 7-5), followed by Smith, winning in three sets (6-2, 2-6, 6-2) at No. 5 singles.
Orlando and Adams match at No. 5 and No. 6 singles were the last to finish the match, with Orlando winning in straight sets (6-4, 7-5) and Adams losing in straight sets (4-6, 5-7).
“I'm not sure we played our best, but we played two very solid matches, and I thought our guys did a good job staying in control both days,” Richards said.
The Cardinals are back in action Thursday at 2 p.m. when Dayton (5-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10) comes to town for the first time since 2011.
“Other than Notre Dame, [Dayton] will be as good if not better than anyone we’ve played this year,” Richards said. “Like so many of the matches we’ve played this year, if we don't play our best, we won't get the job done.”