|ISU men’s tennis prepares to serve up indoor season|
|Written by Scott Gleeson, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 13 January 2011 00:12|
The Illinois State men’s tennis team is starting the 2011 spring season earlier than expected, and head coach Cris James doesn’t mind the early start.
Originally slated to start their spring campaign Jan. 21 in the Missouri Valley Conference Individual Championships, the Redbirds will compete in a home match against Detroit Mercy on Friday at Evergreen Racquet Club in Bloomington. Starting time is at 7:30 p.m.
The ‘Birds are looking to carry over momentum from a strong fall season and James believes the tune-up match will pay off for his team in trying to start out on the right foot.
“It will be nice to have this match against UDM because we have aspirations of doing really well at the individuals,” he said.
“It’s a good opportunity for our guys to get the jitters out, and also to see how our newcomers compete in real-match play.”
ISU will be playing spring tennis with a new look, as three freshmen were added to the team.
Juan David Varon, Tuomas Manner and Jordan Badenko will add depth to the Redbird roster in what James believes can be a championship formula.
“Adding these guys was huge because we needed some depth in our lineup,” James said. “Last year’s team was pretty strong at the top, but struggled at the bottom and in doubles.
“These guys are pretty strong recruits, and I’m hoping they will push some of our top players to really compete for their positions.”
The Redbirds added an even stronger dose of international flavor with the three new additions.
Varon, a native of Almenia, Colombia, is what James describes as a “wildcard.”
“We have seen fewer results on paper with Juan than the other recruits, but from everyone we have been able to talk to, he seems to have a big upside,” James said.
Manner, hailing from Pori, Finland, has been inside the top 300 for juniors according to the International Tennis Federation, recording wins over two top-40 players.
“He’s left handed, which can be tricky to play against,” James said. “He also has plenty of experience playing indoors which should help him adapt quickly.”
Badenko, from Sydney, Australia, is ranked in the top 100 in Australia’s open men’s rankings.
“He has some ATP doubles points,” James said. “He’s also spent some time in Spain, which is a country that has a great reputation of developing players.”