Despite a rough start to their season, the men’s tennis team has finally found their rhythm, aided by a confidence boost after their 7-2 decision over Bethel College Sept. 16.
First doubles pair Joseph Straznicky and Adrian Beloqui dominated against Bethel’s Trent Stout and Nick Kindig, winning the match 8-2.
Beloqui is grateful for the opportunity to play first doubles, a big accomplishment for the incoming freshman.
“It’s very important,” Beloqui said. “My normal position is second doubles, but [the team] is trying out new [matchups]. Since Julian [Massa] and I are freshman, we are trying to get used to the play. We knew we had a good chance of winning the entire match, so coach told us to try new things, and we mixed up the doubles.”
Julian Massa and Diego Inurritegui worked out a few initial kinks and found their stride to fight their way to an 8-4 victory over opponents Ethan Turner and Luke Prude. Meanwhile, Jacob Cross and Joseph Brenneman deliberated against Bethel’s Matt Kempf and Brad Foster. Despite an initial back-and-forth with a slight Bethel lead, Cross’ quick reflexes meshed with Brenneman’s strategic play paid off. They won the match 8-6.
Straznicky and Inurritegui are undefeated in singles play. Straznicky, a freshman standout two years ago who started out at the third seed, is honored to lead the team after working hard for his coveted first spot, he said.
“It’s a big honor,” he said. “I started out playing [third seed]. My first match I played [fourth seed]. In two years, I’ve played with good players and learned a lot from them and from playing here in the states. It’s an honor to represent the school and be the head of the team.”
Straznicky would blank Turner (6-0), (6-0) with Inurritegui following suite beating Stout (6-1), (6-1). Freshman Massa would have his work cut out for him as Kindig would take the match to three sets with Massa pulling out the final victory (6-0), (4-6), (10-8). Kempf and Mason Heller would post two matches on the scoreboard for the Pilots as Kempf defeated Volodymyr Kohut in a close three sets (6-3), (4-6), (10-6). Meanwhile Heller bested Cross (4-6), (7-6), (10-7).
Forester Mark Lewandowski would wrap up singles play and the night for the university. under the lights in a “convincing straight set,” head coach Kreg Eckert said, against Foster (7-6), (8-6), (6-4).
“We came out strong tonight after having some great matches at the National Qualifier tournament in Grand Rapids (Mich.) this past weekend,” he said. “Sweeping the doubles, the singles took over and our only two losses came in long three set matches that could easily have gone our way.”
After a tough loss to conference foe Grace College earlier this season, the team has battled its way back to conquer Taylor University and St. Francis University winning 9-0 against each. The Foresters now have a 3-2 conference record.
Currently sitting fifth in Crossroads League standings, the university has yet to face conference foes Marian and Indiana Wesleyan University, the top two respectively in its league. The team resumes action Sept. 19 against Indiana Tech University and Sept. 20 against Spring Arbor University.