Here is a preview to the final regular season weekend of MAC men's tennis action.
Men's Tennis Aims for MAC Regular Season Title
MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State men's tennis team (15-7, 4-0 MAC) will play at Buffalo (9-7, 3-0 MAC) for the Mid-American Conference regular season title Saturday at 11 a.m.
The Ball State men's tennis program has had historic success over the years. The Cardinals have won a combined 36 MAC regular season and MAC tournament championships in the 41 year tenure of men's tennis coach Bill Richards.
Ball State put itself into contention for the MAC regular season crown after its 4-3 win last Saturday over Western Michigan. The last time Ball State won a conference regular season title was in 2006 and the last MAC Tournament crown was in 2011.
Ball State defeated the Bulls last season at Cardinal Creek Tennis Center by a score of 4-3. If the Cardinals win Ball State will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming 2013 MAC tournament which will be held on the campus of Northern Illinois (April 25-27).
Bulls Conclude Regular Season With Important Homestand
BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's tennis team concludes the 2013 regular season this weekend with an important pair of Mid-American Conference matches against Ball State on Saturday, April 20 and Northern Illinois on Sunday, April 21.
The Bulls head into the weekend 9-7 overall and 3-0 in the MAC. UB's match against Ball State will determine the regular season champion as the Cardinals enter the contest with 4-0 league record, The Bulls defeated the Cardinals, 4-3, in their last meeting, the semifinal round of the 2012 MAC Tournament, after a 4-3 loss in Muncie during the regular season. UB has won the previous three meetings against Northern Illinois.
Heading the Bulls' singles lineup has been senior Vusa Hove, at number one, and sophomore Damien David, at number two. Both players have won a team-best 16 singles matches during the season. David has compiled a 12-4 singles record during the spring campaign and is undefeated (3-0) against MAC competition, including a three-set win over Western Michigan's Ross VanderPloeg on April 5. Hove has triumphed in his last three singles matches, with wins over his Toledo and Binghamton opponents coming in three sets.
The Bulls have also been bolstered this spring by the play of four newcomers, all of whom joined the program in January. Freshmen Pablo Alvarez, Sergio Arevalillo and Ashwin Sharma are all 2-1 in MAC play in the lower half of the UB singles lineup while sophomore transfer Sebastian Ionescu, who also joined the team in the second semester, is 1-1 in the MAC but sat out last week's 7-0 win over Chicago State. Akhil Mehta, another freshman, is third on the squad with 11 singles wins.
Head coach Lee Nickell sees this weekend's matches as crucial for his young Bulls.
"This weekend will truly be exciting. Having the regular season conference championship come down to two matches here at home is a great opportunity for our fans and students to see some high quality tennis," said Nickell. "Ball State is coming in with four seniors on their team and have a ton of experience. They have had some great wins this season and have competed with top-25 teams. Northern is consistently the most dangerous team in the MAC. Their top three players can compete with any top three in the country, and they have had some success as of late in the bottom half of the lineup. We are going to have to play our best tennis on both days if we want to have a chance to win."
Sunday's match against Northern Illinois will also serve as the final home contest for Hove and Nick Sarles. Hove, named the MAC Player of the Week, earlier this week for his play against Chicago State and Binghamton, moved into second place on UB's all-time singles victories list and is on target to graduate as UB's all-time leader in combined singles and doubles winning percentage. Sarles has been a member of the Bulls for the past two seasons after an impressive high school career.
"Vusa Hove has meant so much to this program," said Nickell. "His fierce competitive nature and work ethic have pushed his game to new heights over the past four years and has been one of the key reasons we have two championships. I am so pleased he will be playing at home for his senior day with a chance to win another MAC championship.
"Nick Sarles is the example of character and hard work that we expect from our student athletes," continued Nickell. "His persistent nature and work ethic earned him a spot on this team, and he has improved immensely in the two years he has worked with us."
Saturday's match against the Cardinals is scheduled for 11:00 am while Sunday's match with the Huskies is a 10:00 am start.
The Huskies travel to Buffalo on Sunday, April 21 at 11:00 am ET.
Two Road Matches on Tap for Final Weekend of Men's Tennis Regular Season
TOLEDO, Ohio - The Toledo men's tennis team looks to end a three-match losing streak and capture its first conference win over the final weekend of regular season play. The Rockets (18-9, 0-3 MAC) will take on Western Michigan (16-9, 2-2 MAC) at Sorensen Courts in Kalamazoo, Mich, before wrapping up the regular season in Chicago, Ill. versus Chicago State (1-21, 0-4 MAC) on Saturday, April 20. Friday's match is slated for the normal 1:00 p.m. start time, but Saturday's dual has been moved indoors and pushed back to 2:30 p.m. CT.
"We’ve put ourselves at a disadvantage for MAC seeding because of our three conference losses," UT head coach Al Wermer said. "We’ve had some impressive practice time logged by many of the guys the past couple weeks. They’ve proven they can get out of trouble in a lot of close matches this year, but now let’s see when our backs are against the wall."
The Midnight Blue & Gold struggled to sustain fast starts in each of the previous two losses, capturing the doubles point with ease over Northern Illinois (April 14) and Buffalo (April 7), but running out of gas quickly to suffer defeat in each contest.
Senior Francisco Stuardo has been a steady contributor all season at No. 3 singles and leads the team with a 2-1 record against MAC opponents. Stuardo, a transfer in his final year of eligibility, is also undefeated in league doubles competition with sophomore Grant Adams. The duo has won five consecutive at the second flight, including eight of the past 10 matches for an overall record of 15-5.
Western Michigan will play its final contest against the Rockets, while coming off tough back-to-back 4-3 losses to Buffalo and Ball State. The Broncos are vying for the third seed and are currently tied with NIU in the league standings. UT hasn't beaten WMU in over ten years, with the Broncos winning 6-1 in Toledo a year ago.
The Cougars also wrap up the dual season against UT after suffering back-to-back losses to Buffalo and Ball State. The Rockets won last year's meeting 7-0 in the Glass City.
Following this weekend, the MAC tournament will take place in DeKalb, Ill. next Friday-Saturday, April 26-27 on NIU's campus. UT is slated as the fifth seed and would face the second seed, either Ball State of Buffalo, in the first round.
Men's Tennis Hosts Rockets on Senior Day
Western Michigan Broncos (16-9, 2-2 MAC) vs. Toledo Rockets (18-9, 0-3 MAC); Friday, April 19 at 1 p.m., Kalamazoo, Mich. // West Hills Athletic Club
THE SERIES: This will be the 63rd meeting between the Broncos and the Rockets, with Western Michigan holding a 54-8 advantage in the all-time series against Toledo. In the team’s last meeting, the Broncos clinched the third seed for the 2012 MAC Tournament with a 6-1 win in Toledo. Nadin Indre, Ross VanderPloeg, and Simon Blomberg all picked up singles victories in the match. Toledo was also the site of the Broncos’ greatest success in 2012; the Broncos won three matches in as many days in the 2012 MAC Tournament to clinch their ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history.
RUNAWAY TRAIN: Junior Nadin Indre has been nigh unbeatable as of late, and the reigning MAC Player of the Year has set his sights on winning the award two years in a row with his performance down the stretch. Indre has won eight straight singles matches dating back to March 1, when he lost to #47 Patrick Kawka of 30th-ranked Brigham Young. Indre has been nearly as good in doubles play; the pairing of Indre and Ruben Greiner has not lost a doubles match since March 8, an 8-6 loss to 43rd-ranked Michigan State’s No. 1 doubles team.
SENIOR DAY CEREMONY: Friday will mark the final home match in the careers of three members of the Broncos - Simon Blomberg, Ross VanderPloeg, and Aaron Wong. The trio has been part of the continuing success of the program, helping the team to either a MAC regular season or tournament championship in each of the last three seasons, as well as two NCAA Tournament bids.