Indiana Men’s Tennis dominates Illinois State in a rebounding win to move to 5-5

Indiana Men's Tennis dominates Illinois State in a rebounding win to move to 5-5

The Indiana men’s tennis team returned to Bloomington to take on Illinois State University on Friday after losing their first road game of the season to Louisville on Feb. 26.

The Hoosiers came out firing on all cylinders in the doubles competition, with their three pair taking an early 5-1 lead. The No. 3 doubles match ended with a 6-1 win for the Indiana junior pair Luka Vukovic and second Michael Andre over the Redbirds pair of junior Nan Pham and rookie Dominick Cuchran.

Moments later, Indiana senior Patrick Fletchall and sophomore Ilya Tiraspolsky won Game 2 by an identical score and put the Hoosiers on the board with the doubles point.

Head coach Jeremy Wurtzman stressed the importance of setting the tone early, especially in Indiana’s home games.

“We want to be aggressive, play with energy and make the other team hard to play,” Wurtzman said. “We never want to make our opponent too comfortable, and we did a great job of that.”

Wurtzman said that in Indiana’s previous game against Louisville, the team was unable to execute in the areas that brought success against Illinois State because Hoosier players had been unable to secure the doubles point and early disparities in singles proved detrimental.

“Our energy was great and we competed well,” Wurtzman said, “But in singles, we got into a few holes early on, and we weren’t used to the (Louisville) building.”

On Friday, however, the Hoosiers executed their game plan almost perfectly.

“We talked a lot about being ready from the first point and playing on our own terms,” ​​Wurtzman said.

After winning the doubles point against the visiting Redbirds, the Hoosiers never looked back.

Their momentum continued in the singles matches, as eventual wins at the No. 1, 2 and 5 positions scored Indiana’s second, third and fourth points of the night.

Indiana senior Carson Haskins held off Pham 6-1, 6-3. Fletchall then defeated Illinois State junior Melker Isaksson 6-1, 6-2. Senior Vikash Singh closed the Hoosiers game with a shutout against junior Arvid Hjalte, winning 6-0, 6-0.

When the rest of Friday’s singles games were halted once Indiana confirmed their 4-0 win, no Hoosier player hung around. Vukovic edged past Redbirds senior Diego Le Gal Perez 6-3, 5-1 in singles match 3. Ilya Tiraspolsky led senior Diego Emilio Moura Herrera 6-4, 3-0, in fourth place. Jagger Saylor completed the lineup with a 6-4, 2-1 lead at No. 6.

Wurtzman said two players, Fletchall and Vukovic, have been among Indiana’s most reliable singles contenders so far.

“Patrick has exceeded expectations this season, and that’s what we need from all of our guys,” Wurtzman said. “Luka’s game (on Friday) should also give him confidence.”

Both Fletchall and Vukovic are 5-3 in singles matches completed this season.

The Hoosiers will be looking to build a winning streak after Friday’s dominating victory. They travel to Auburn, Alabama, on Monday to take on the No. 25-ranked Auburn University Tigers.

Although the next opponent will be one of Indiana’s strongest faces all season, Wurtzman said the team is ready to head south with a win under their belt. Games like the one against Illinois State are the kind Wurtzman says will prepare the Hoosiers to face some of the best programs in the country.

“Winning helps,” Wurtzman said. “You can train all you want, but the real confidence will come from winning matches.”