It came down to the wire, but the Ball State Men’s tennis team is 2-0 on the young season after defeating the Illinois State Redbirds (3-1) 4-3 on Friday.
The doubles action began with the tandem of fifth-year Danillo Kovacevic and fourth-year Parrish Simmons winning 6-3 in first doubles. First-year Jacks Lancaster and fourth-year Abe Wojtalik had to go to an extra game to win 7-5 in the third doubles match to grab the doubles point for the Cards.
No match was created equal in singles. From back-and-forth three-set matches to straight-set sweeps, the Cardinals had to earn this one.
Play got started with Nam Pham of Illinois State defeating Kovacevic 6-0, 6-1 in the first singles. Fourth-year Eli Herran quickly gave the cardinals the lead back 2-1 when he won third singles in straight sets.
Second-year Petar Petrovic faced some resistance in the first set but won the sixth singles slot for Ball State 6-4, 6-1. It pushed the Cardinals' lead up to 3-1, and they just needed to grab one more match to win. But it wasn’t going to be that easy.
Adrian Dibildox of Illinois State proved to be too much for Lancaster in the fifth singles slot, as he lost 3-6, 4-6.
The Redbirds found the 3-3 equalizer in the second singles match, as Arvid Hjalte defeated fourth-year Vince Orlando 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. It left the fourth singles match as the deciding factor for the day.
In it, third-year Sajin Smith edged out Illinois State’s Tomas Valencia 6-4, 4-6, 5-7 in a thriller to give Ball State the 4-3 win.
The Cardinals avenged a 6-1 loss to the Redbirds from last season and will look to take the momentum into Sunday’s match against the Indiana Hoosiers, with the first serve scheduled for 4 p.m. in Bloomington.
Contact Caleb Zuver with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @zuves35