Michigan State Travels For Duals Against Drake And New Mexico
Spartans battle Drake on Friday and New Mexico on Saturday.
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
Michigan State men’s tennis hits the road again this weekend, traveling to Des Moines, Iowa, for a dual against Drake University on Friday Feb. 2 at 6 p.m., and ending with New Mexico on Saturday Feb. 3 at 2 p.m hosted by Drake at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center.
Last weekend, the Spartans (2-3) traveled to New Jersey for a dual against Princeton. After the Tigers got ahead early in doubles matches, the Spartans got two singles wins from freshmen Josh Mukherjee and Davis Wong. Falling just short, the Spartans took a 5-2 loss at the conclusion of competition.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Gene Orlando
On what he’s looking for from the team this weekend…
We’re looking to continue to build off the momentum that we’ve had the last three weeks. We had a three-match skid against very good teams. There have been a lot of positives and I’m hoping we can put it all together as a team from No. 1 to No. 6 in singles and No. 1 to No. 3 in doubles. We’ve all had our moments, but if we do it together, collectively, we can beat a very good team. Both of these teams that we’re going to play are very good.
On the match-ups of Drake and New Mexico…
They’re going to be very competitive matches and I think they’re winnable. It comes down to us playing our game, our style and finding ways to win against their style. Sure there are match-ups that we might struggle with individually, but finding ways to win with your game regardless of who you’re playing is important. Both are very talented teams and it’ll be fun to compete against some teams that we normally don’t compete with.
QUOTING SENIOR Jasper Koenen
On how the team is coming together…
I’m having such a fun year with this group. It’s really fun with the four freshmen. The last two years, we’ve had pretty much the same team so having new faces has been awesome. I really enjoy the team we have this year. I think we’re doing a great job of coming together. Our team is really close. We all support each other. Everyone comes in early to hit with each other and when someone’s down or something’s not going well, everyone’s there for them. It’s a really good group of guys.
On a long road swing…
It’s tough. It’s not my first time. For the freshmen it’s new, traveling each weekend and missing classes but it’s fun. I like seeing other schools. Coach O does a really good job during our non-conference schedule to see different schools.
The Bulldogs, who were picked as the preseason Summit League favorites, are currently 3-2 in the regular season. Drake returns this season with three of its top competitors. Junior Tom Hands was a 2017 All-Missouri Valley Conference selection while junior Ben Clark was the 2017 All-MVC player. Junior Vinny Gillespie, who was named MVC player of the year last season, is ranked 52nd in the ITA Preseason Singles Rankings.
The last time the Spartans and Bulldogs met, Drake finished with a 4-0 victory on March 12, 2017. The two teams have only met twice in program history, and the Bulldogs hold a 2-0 advantage.
SCOUTING NEW MEXICO
New Mexico, who is 1-2 overall to start the 2018 spring season, finished last year with a record of 12-13. The Spartans meet the Lobos for the third time in program history, and New Mexico holds a 2-0 advantage over the Spartans. In the last two meetings the Spartans fell just short to the Lobos, 4-3, in both duals.
Junior Ricky Hernandez-Tong is the Lobos’ highest ranking returner at No. 8 in singles regionally, and No. 72 overall. Hernandez-Tong finished last season with an overall record of 20-10.
Michigan State returns home to host Western Michigan on Friday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m., followed by a doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 11 at home against Harvard at 12 p.m. and Niagara at 4 p.m.