The Ball State Men’s tennis team capped off a successful week for the team on Friday, defeating the Xavier Musketeers 6-1.
Coming into the match, the Cardinals (6-3) were fresh off road wins against Niagara on Sunday, and Purdue on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Musketeers (6-3) had won six of their last seven, including a 4-3 win over Cleveland State, a team Ball State lost to 1-6.
“I would’ve been happy to get out of here with a 4-3 win. I didn’t really expect to dominate quite to the degree we did,” head coach Bill Richards said. “The difference is, we got off to a really good start in doubles.”
Fourth-year Vince Orlando and second-year Nathaniel Webster won 6-3 on the first doubles court, and fifth-year Danillo Kovacevic and fourth-year Parrish Simmons breezed to a 6-2 win in the second doubles.
After Richards changed the doubles lineup a week ago against Butler, the Cardinals are 4-1. On the year as a whole, they’re 6-0 in matches where they win the doubles point, and 0-3 when they don’t. Richards says the importance of the doubles point can’t be understated for the team.
“We’ve been putting a lot of time into doubles in terms of all the drills, concepts and positioning,” Richards said. “The doubles point is always huge, both from a momentum standpoint, and from (the fact) you need four points to win a match.”
Ball State carried that momentum into the singles matches. In five of the six matches, they won the first set.
First-year Jacks Lancaster, third-year Sajin Smith, and fourth-year Eli Herran all made fairly quick work of their opponents to get the Cardinals to the four points they needed to win the match.
Nathaniel Webster had his match go the distance after dropping the first set in first singles, but he settled in and came out on top 6-7, 6-2, 6-2.
Danillo Kovacevic said that the sooner the match gets wrapped up as it did on Friday, the sooner players can play more freely on the court.
“We took care of business (on courts) four, five and six,” Kovacevic. “It kills everyone’s confidence who’s playing for Xavier.”
It’s been an up-and-down start to the year for Kovacevic, who is a returning first-team all-MAC player. After losing five straight singles matches, coach Richards challenged him to be more locked in.
He responded this week with three singles wins, including today’s win, where he captured a three-set victory.
“I think my focus is a lot better,” Kovacevic said. “I was pretty positive. There were things going up and down the whole match. I wasn’t too upset at myself, and kept going.”
The Cardinals have now won four of their last five. Kovacevic credits the intensity level the team has brought to these matches as the reason why they’ve been able to be successful.
“I just feel like as a whole we played Purdue and Xavier, two teams who usually have pretty good energy, and I think we just had more than them,” Kovacevic said. “It helped us get through the big points, (and) we felt more as a team. We learned a lot about being positive.”
Ball State will continue to play on Wednesday at 1 p.m. versus the Dayton Flyers at the Northwest YMCA in Muncie.