March 11, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
The Michigan State men's tennis team will look to get back on track Wednesday evening when it hosts Western Michigan. Play will begin at 6 p.m. inside the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility and admission is free. Live scoring will be available on msuspartans.com.
The Spartans have lost their last two matches in a row and their last four of five. MSU (5-7, 0-1 B1G) is coming off a loss its last time out, March 8 at then-No. 33 Harvard, by a final of 5-2. Harvard took the doubles point by winning all three matches and then went on to claim the match by winning four of the six singles matches.
After dropping the doubles point, Harvard went on to win three first sets in singles, which put the Spartans in a tough spot in trying to come back.
"We're not closing and we're getting right there, it's execution," head coach Gene Orlando said. "They are a good team, we let them back in and they ran with it. We let them back in and we didn't close it out. We had to fight to get back in it, we lost three first sets after losing the doubles point, so we were fighting to stay alive."
Harvard won all three doubles matches, marking just the first time all season MSU had been swept in doubles. The overall team record for doubles stands at 17-15 (.531).
In singles, MSU's team record stands at 39-26 (.600). The Spartans have gotten good production out of courts two and five, with both of those courts accounting for eight wins apiece. Senior Aaron Pfister has accounted for six of the eight wins on court two, compiling a 6-2 mark on court two and a 7-5 overall record. Freshman Brett Forman is responsible for four of the eight wins on court five, going 4-0 on the fifth court and 8-1 overall.
Four of the last five matches for MSU have been against ranked opponents, including its last two in a row. Western Michigan comes into Wednesday's meeting unranked.
"Breakdown Before the Breakthrough"
Coach Orlando has used the phrase multiple times this season as a way to keep his team motivated and prepared for the moments when the big-time, ranked wins come. MSU has been highly competitive in each and every match its played, with the winning points literally just match points away. Orlando is keeping his team focused on the next match, keeping a winning mentality, and making sure his team is doing everything they can in practice to stay on top of their game.
"We've talked about it before, but we need to keep the focus higher in practice," Orlando said. "We have to really make practices tight and really focused, we can't take points off in practice. We've talked about it before, everything counts in practice. We need to compete to win in practice."
About Western Michigan
The Broncos come into Wednesday's match unranked, with an 8-7 record. Dave Morin is in his 18th season leading WMU. WMU has appeared in the NCAA Tournament in seven of the last eight years.
The Broncos are 47-39 (.547) as a team in singles. Senior Nadin Indre leads the way on the top court, posting a 10-4 mark. Indre is also 2-2 against nationally ranked opponents. Indre is a two-time All-MAC first-team selection and has wins over three Big Ten opponents, including Michigan, Indiana and Iowa this season.
In doubles, WMU is 23-16 (.590) as team. Indre pairs with Stephen Payne on the top court and the duo is 7-7. WMU is 9-3 on the third court and with three different pairs responsible for that record.
The last time the Spartans and Broncos matched up ended in an upset win for the Broncos. The then-No. 43 Spartans traveled to Kalamazoo, Mich., March 8, 2013, and lost by a final of 4-3. MSU won the doubles point, but then won just two singles matches and lost to the unranked Broncos. Sophomore John Patrick Mullane and junior Gijs Linders picked up the two wins for MSU that day.
"It's certainly a rivalry match for sure," Orlando said. "They've done well in their conference. It was a tough match for us last year and we respect the heck out of them."
After Wednesday's match, MSU will conclude its non-conference slate on Saturday when it heads down to Louisville, Ky., to take on the No. 29 Cardinals.