By: Brandon Hillary
The men’s tennis team got off to a slow start this season, but two wins last weekend have now raised its record to above .500 (4-3) for the first time this season.
The Redbirds had to be mentally tough after winning their matches Friday at St. John’s in New York 4-3, to go on to play at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia just two days later and win 5-2. This was the first win over Penn in ISU men’s tennis history.
Friday’s competition featured an ISU win from Jakub Eisner and Rolando Torrellas against St. John’s Lucas Hejhal and Vaidik Munshaw, 8-7.
Muddappa Appanervanda and Rodrigo Oliveira also bested Robert Livi and MJ Every, 8-7 on Friday.
“I’m so excited for these guys and the effort they put in today,” head coach Mark Klysner said. “Rodrigo [Oliveira] was clutch, fighting off two match points, and then winning the deciding match in three sets.”
In singles play, Oliveira won in a three-set battle while Eisner fell to St. John’s Erick Reyes.
Jacob Wilson also took RJ Del Nunzio in two matches, 6-4, 6-2.
Klysner hoped to keep the momentum going, heading into action on Sunday against Penn State.
Sunday’s singles play included a victory from Eisner over Penn’s Nikola Kocovic, 6-2, 6-4. Vim De Alwis defeated Redbird Wilson, 6-4, 6-4, and Appanervanda took down Matt Nardella, 6-4, 6-0. Redbird Urh Krajnc Domiter fell to Court 6-0, 6-0.
Torrellas and Oliveira each got into a tie-breaker and won their third sets.
“Oliveira and Torrellas were in some battles today but showed a lot of character and pulled out great victories,” coach Klysner said.
Torrellas won the first set 6-4 followed by a second set loss of 4-6, but was able to clean it up in time to win the third set at 7-5. After a rough 3-6 first set, Oliveira turned his game around, winning both the second and third sets 6-3.
The doubles play went well for the Redbirds Sunday. Oliveira and Appanervanda improved their record to 12-2 after an 8-6 win over Penn’s Thomas Spratt and Austin Kaplan. Eisner and Torrellas beat Kocovic and Nardella 8-4, and Wilson and Urh Krajnc Domiter fell in a close 8-6 match to Jeremy Court and Zach Katz.
Coach Klysner was proud of his team’s ability to stay focused headed into two quick road games with a below .500 record.
“I can’t be happier with the way the guys fought today. The doubles point was huge to take,” Klysner said.
The ‘Birds have this week to be reunited with Normal before heading out on another two-game road trip. They will head to Indiana to play Ball State Saturday at 2 p.m central time Sunday at Indiana State.