|ISU men’s tennis goes 1-1 in preparation for MVC Championships|
|Written by Kevin Powell, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Tuesday, 17 January 2012 16:21|
The Illinois State men’s tennis team began its spring season at the Eck Tennis Pavilion in Notre Dame, Ind., Jan. 15.
The Redbirds competed against Notre Dame and Toledo, where ISU defeated Toledo, 5–2, but fell to the Fighting Irish, 7–0.
Heading into the spring season, head coach Cris James has a vision for his team, especially after this past weekend’s events.
“We are going to try to improve our doubles a little bit,” James said. “Overall, we still have to figure out what our combinations will be and see who will collaborate well together.”
James is also looking for a more sustained effort from his squad in the upcoming spring season.
“There was definitely some good stuff in the fall, but we had some poor results too,” James said. “Our focus right now is just to continue to get better. We have a talented group of guys and everyone on our team is capable of getting the job done. We just have to rise to the occasion more consistently.”
As the season begins, the ‘Birds will also gain another asset, as sophomore Jordan Badenko will be eligible to compete.
“We have to figure out where we can work Jordan in,” James said. “I’m looking forward to watching him, as well as the freshmen, continue to evolve as players.”
ISU’s first meet since the fall season began with Casey Watt of Notre Dame defeating ISU’s Alexander Pelaez, 6–2, 6–4, before Tuomas Manner lost to Greg Andrews, 6–3, 6–1.
Notre Dame found success in doubles as well, as Pelaez and Manner fell to Niall Fitzgerald and Spencer Talmadge, 8–7 (7–4). ISU’s Skip Span and Badenko were defeated by Watt and Greg Andrews, 6–3, 6–1.
“Alex and Tuomas can play better than that,” James said. “They’ve got to be a little bit sharper and be able to dictate things on the doubles court better and they will.”
In conjunction with the loss to ND, there were numerous Redbirds who were just getting integrated into the ISU tennis program.
“We had four guys today that were playing their first college dual match including Jordan,” James said.
The storyline against Toledo went much different, as the ‘Birds won every doubles match.
Pelaez and Willi Peter paired up to beat Leo Sarria Tomas Stillman, 8–2. Manner and Muddappa Appanervanda defeated Bryant Dudzik and Nicholas Wong, 8–7. Span and Jusso Ojanen teamed up to beat Grant Adams and Terence Weigand, 8–4.
“We believed in ourselves and expected to win against Toledo more so than against Notre Dame,” James said. “Our young guys, for whatever reason, are questioning their abilities a little bit and are unsure of themselves on the court and that’s something they will definitely have to find a way to get past.”
The ‘Birds will be back in action as they head to Des Moines, Iowa, for the State Farm MVC Individual Championship Friday.
Pelaez injured his back at the Notre Dame meet and hopes to be able to compete this weekend.
“It’s really sore, the muscle was causing a lot of pain. It doesn’t give me too much freedom to move,” Pelaez said of his back injury.
Likewise, James is unsure of what to expect this upcoming weekend from his young team.
“Honestly, I don’t know for sure. I think we have a ton of talent on this team,” James said. “I keep telling them we need to be more confident. If they play to their potential we are pretty good.”