Ball State Men’s Tennis (2-1) traveled south to face in-state rival Indiana (4-1) in Bloomington on Sunday, suffering a tough 5-2 defeat. Throughout all of the respective matches, they had opportunities to win, but couldn’t find a way to turn the momentum.
“I thought we gave ourselves a chance,” head coach Bill Richards said. “We went in talking about putting ourselves in individual situations to win matches. And we did that, but we weren’t able to convert in certain situations.”
The team started doubles play with fifth-year Danillo Kovacevic and fourth-year Parrish Simmons dropping the first doubles 6-2.
But first-year Broc Fletcher and fourth-year Abe Wojtalik were up 5-2 in third doubles. They had a match point and were looking to give the Cardinals the equalizing point in doubles.
They couldn’t close though, and as the third doubles match concluded, the Cardinals had a match point in the second doubles. It wouldn’t end up mattering though. It was a golden opportunity to set the tone for the team, but they couldn’t get it done.
“We had every opportunity to take that doubles point and couldn’t get those key points to finish it off,” said Richards. “We let them [Indiana] off the hook. That took a little pressure off of them, and let them play a little bit more confidently in singles.”
In singles, second-year Nathaniel Webster fell 3-6, 2-6 while Kovacevic couldn’t muster up a single game in third singles, losing 0-6, 0-6.
Fourth-year Eli Herran kept his match competitive, but lost 1-6, 4-6, while Petar Petrovic had a lot of go-either-way points in his match, but couldn’t find a way to snatch them up, losing 3-6, 5-7.
In these losses, coach Richards was pleased with how his team continued to battle, even in some lopsided first sets after losing in doubles.
“We did right ourselves. We did come back and play pretty competitively in three of those second sets,” Richards said.
On the brighter side for Ball State, fourth-year Vince Orlando came away with a big win in the second singles. He won the first set 6-3, lost the second 2-6, and won the third set tiebreak 10-6. First-year Jacks Lancaster handled his opponent 6-3, 6-2 as well.
After winning a close match versus Illinois State on Friday, coach Richards still believes there are many positive things to take from this weekend, despite the loss on Sunday.
Third-year Sajin Smith won the last match of the day on Friday, in what was his first match in over a year and a half due to injury. The team held him out today as they try to ease him back into competition. Richards believes it was a good sign that the team was able to keep it competitive with him not available.
“Obviously he would’ve helped us if he would’ve been able to play today. The fact that we were able to put ourselves in a position to win this match today was a positive,” Richards said. “But as you evaluate the weekend, there were certainly a lot more positives than negatives.”
The Cardinals travel to another Big Ten opponent Michigan State on Friday, starting at noon.
Contact Caleb Zuver with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @zuves35.