The Ball State men’s tennis team dropped a close 5-2 match Friday versus the Western Michigan Broncos.
The MAC men’s tennis championship runs through Western Michigan (7-6, 3-0). They’ve won four consecutive regular season championships, with their only loss during that time coming to the Cardinals last year. Ball State (8-6, 0-2) had opportunities to win certain points, but the championship pedigree of the Broncos came through.
“They [Western Michigan] certainly have that swagger, they have that confidence, they have that belief,” head Coach Bill Richards said. “That’s certainly an asset in pressure situations.”
Specifically, fourth-year Vince Orlando and fourth-year Eli Herran had opportunities to get a point for the Cardinals.
Herran won his first set 6-2, but dropped his second set 4-6, even after breaking Western Michigan third-year Jackson Boone’s serve. He couldn’t recover from dropping that set and lost the third 2-6.
Orlando dropped his set 2-6, then was serving with the score 5-6. He couldn’t put it together, and also came up short.
For Richards, there are technical things that can be worked on, sure. But the team’s commitment can’t be questioned. They’re fighting and scrapping for everything out there.
“He [Orlando] got right where he needed to be in the second set,” Richards said. “He had some breakdowns in his game. For any of our guys, it’s not about competing, it’s not about lack of effort. But everyone has things in their games that have to continue to get better.”
What has gotten better over the course of this season is the production Ball State has been getting from the doubles point. The Cardinals did a lot of lineup shuffling earlier in the season, but are starting to find the right combinations. They won a couple of close matches with Orlando and Herran winning the second court 6-3, and fourth-year Parrish Simmons and first-year Jacks Lancaster winning 6-4 in third doubles.
Simmons had been struggling in recent weeks, and Richards said he played and responded “extremely well” at third doubles.
The Cardinals will now have an uphill climb in the MAC standings after falling to 0-2 in conference play. But with so much season still ahead this season, Richards wants the team to keep the same focus, and get ready to bounce back quickly after a loss.
“How you come back from a loss really defines you as a player, defines you as a coach, and defines you as a team,” Richards said. “That’s sports. You can be mad, you can be upset, but you can’t feel sorry for yourself. We’re going to have to play better than we played last Saturday, and we’re going to have to play better than we played today in order to get a win on Sunday.”
Ball State will get right back at it Sunday against Northern Illinois, with a start time scheduled for 1 p.m.