The men’s tennis team captured a non-conference 5-2 win 52, that snapped a four-game losing streak Wednesday.
The match against the Eastern Illinois University Panthers was the team’s final non-conference gmae. The Salukis return to conference play Saturday.
The match started with doubles play, when the Salukis dropped the doubles point. At No. 2 doubles, partners senior Orhan Spahic and freshman Szymon Opieczonek lost to their opponents 9-7. No. 3 doubles partners juniors Badr Cherradi and Jordan Snyder lost 8-4.
The Salukis did win at No. 1 doubles, though, junior Brandon Florez and senior Stanislas Rodier made quick work of their opponents, winning 8-2.
Florez said the partners viewed the match as a must-win, after Saturday’s close loss against Wichita State University.
“We lost a really close match (against Wichita State),” Florez said. “We had to win today. It was really important for us to bounce back after that match.”
Despite the lost doubles point, it was the team’s singles play that helped win the match. SIU won five of six singles matches as Cherradi won at No. 1 singles 6-1, 7-5 for his first win in the last five matches. At No. 2 doubles, Rodier won 6-2, 6-1 for his second win in a row.
Rodier said he was able to overpower his opponent at times.
“I felt like we were playing much better doubles than the other guys; they were just overwhelmed with what was happening on the court,” he said. “We were just putting the returns in, using the volleys and making the first serve, and it
worked very well.”
Florez notched another singles victory for the Salukis at No. 3 singles as he defeated his opponent 6-3, 6-3. Spahic lost at No. 4 singles in a tiebreaking third set 4-6, 6-3, 10-6, but the final two seeds, Rafael Cuadrillero and Opieczonek, won 6-4, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-0 respectively.
The wins broke a four-game losing streak for Cuadrillero and a three-game losing streak for Opieczonek.
Coach Dann Nelson said the win should build confidence as the team prepares to face two conference foes Saturday against Creighton University and Sunday against Drake University.
“I talked to the guys after the match, saying this was a huge confidence builder for us going into the rest of the conference season,” Nelson said. “We know what we need to do to get better in doubles, to win doubles points in the MVC. … And now a bunch of our guys have singles wins.”
After Saturday’s match at Creighton, the Salukis will travel to Drake for Sunday’s match. Despite the limited practice time and extensive travel, Nelson said it should not negatively affect his team’s performance.
“We drive everywhere we go, so it’s nothing for us to drive to Creighton and play Drake after that,” Nelson said. “The conference is spread out that way, and we’re used to it.”