SIU’s men’s tennis team found trouble facing the Tigers’ depth as they lost the last game of their road trip 4-0 Friday in Memphis.
The Salukis played tough in singles. However, they either lost or couldn’t finish every match against a Memphis opponent during the weekend meet.
Despite the loss, coach Dann Nelson said his team fared well against its first three matchups. However, he said Memphis’ strength through its lineup gave the Tigers their edge.
“They have really good players top to bottom,” coach Dann Nelson said. “We were matching up well to them in a few different spots in singles but had some trouble in some other spots.”
Sophomore Jorge Cavero was one player who performed well during the meet. Cavero went head-to-head against Memphis junior Joe Salisbury, who is one of the nation’s top players. Salisbury took the first round 6-4, but Cavero fought back to take the second 3-0.
Cavero said his serve broke Salisbury and that helped him establish the lead he built. His next serve was off a bit, and it gave Salisbury the chance to get back in the match. Despite the serving struggles, Cavero said he never thought he was out of the match.
“I never thought that they were unbeatable,” he said. “In doubles play, we could have picked up a point if the match would have been finished and there were also two other matches that were really tight but also ended in unfinished. It was an awesome experience to play that kind of team.”
Cavero, who was 2010-11’s Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, is returning from a wrist injury that sidelined him for nearly all of last season. The sophomore said he is playing well overall, and he is happy his play is picking back up.
He and fellow sophomore Szymon Opieczonek played tough in doubles as well against the Tiger’s duo David O’Hare and Johnny Grimal. That match went unfin`ished as it ended 6-5 in Memphis’ favor.
SIU ends its road trip with a 2-2 record over the last two weeks. The Salukis’ two wins came over the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Austin Peay in back-to-back weeks. The team’s next match will be its first of the season in Carbondale, where they will face McKendree.
“I’m excited to be home,” senior Brandon Florez said. “We can practice normally and we don’t have to drive for hours and practice at 9 o’clock. It’s nice to travel with the team and it’s always fun, but four weeks in a row kind of gets to you.”