|Redbirds’ doubles teams have each other’s backs|
|Written by Scott Schnorr, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 03 November 2010 21:19|
With a fall season as strong as the ISU men’s tennis team’s, it is difficult to not get excited for what is sure to come during the regular spring season.
The Redbirds, as a whole, have proven to their long list of competitors that they are a force to be reckoned with. Yet it has been the ISU doubles teams that have proved to be one of the strongest and most consistent aspects of the team.
ISU has three very diverse doubles teams, each facing their own obstacles when first playing with each other.
The first pair consists of two players originating from different countries. Senior Timon Reichelt and sophomore Alexander Pelaez both transferred to ISU and quickly learned how to combine both their German and Cuban styles of play in order to become a more successful pair on the court.
In October, the duo reached the semifinal match of the ITA-Midwest Regional Championship and has impressed ISU head coach Cris James, who is excited to see how the pair grows over the offseason before the spring.
“They’re playing at a very high level right now,” James said. “If they keep this up, I don’t see why they can’t crack the top-25 or 30 ranking in the nation.”
The next pair of players on the ISU team are known as the oldest duo, consisting of two seniors, who just like Reichelt and Palaez, originate from two different countries.
Seniors Filip Miljevic of Serbia and Matej Zlatkovic of Slovenia have created a chemistry stronger than many doubles teams.
Rather than looking for differences between the two of them, they found similarities that have made them top contenders in several meets.
Having both been new to not only the campus but also the environment of a new country, the pair of Miljevic and Zlatkovic were able to find a way to relate and become better teammates, which has proved to be the solution to their success so far this year.
The third pair of doubles partners have not had the same difficulties when it comes to origin as the other two pairs, but they have had some of their own that they’ve learned to rise above.
Junior Skip Span and freshman Mya Smith-Dennis are the youngest pair on the team and have learned the best way for each other to play together is to have a certain attitude on the court.
Upperclassman Span stepped up not only as a teammate, but also as a teacher for Smith-Dennis. He’s taught the youngest Redbird in order for them to be a successful team, they need to be vocal with an aggressive, in-your-face attacking style.
This style of play proved to be vital as they faced No. 2 Ohio State last month.
The pair went into the game with a mentality that they could beat this team as long as they played their game and forced Ohio State to make big shots.
“We ended up losing a very close match to [Ohio State], but I think it was a major turning point for us,” Span said. “We realized we were right there in the match with one of the best teams in the country, and now there is a higher level of expectation from ourselves and the rest of our team for us going into season.”
The three diverse pairs have learned a great amount from each other and have proved to themselves that finding similarities and making the best of any differences is always the more successful route.