MSU Spartans
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Men's Tennis Hosts Two Conference Matches
 
 
 
MSU will be looking for its first Big Ten win this season.
 
MSU will be looking for its first Big Ten win this season.
 
 

March 26, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. -

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The Michigan State men's tennis team welcomes in a pair of ranked, Big Ten opponents this weekend. The Spartans (6-10, 0-3 Big Ten) will play No. 58 Nebraska on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., and No. 71 Iowa at 12 p.m. on Sunday. The matches will either be held at the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility or the Outdoor Tennis Courts, depending upon weather. Should the temperatures rise about 50 degrees, the matches will be held outside.

First Serve
MSU is coming off two conference losses last week. The Spartans lost a tight match to No. 27 Penn State in University Park, Pa., on March 21 by a final of 4-3. Three of the 10 losses for the Spartans this season have come by a final of 4-3 in the opponent's favor.

MSU had opportunities against the Nittany Lions but came up just short. After losing the doubles point, and dropping singles matches on the top two courts, MSU fell in a quick 3-0 hole. MSU cut the lead to one after freshman Brett Forman and sophomore John Patrick Mullane each picked up wins on courts three and four, respectively. Penn State won its match on court six over freshman Mac Roy, which ended up clinching the match. Junior Gijs Linders won his match on court five for a final tally of 4-3.

Coming back just two days later, MSU lost its second match of the weekend to then-No. 2 Ohio State. The Spartans had an opportunity to clinch the doubles point but lost in a nail-biting 8-7(3) tiebreaker on court one, with senior Drew Lied and Mullane falling to the then-No. 4 doubles team in the nation. MSU went on to win two singles matches as senior Aaron Pfister and Mullane picked up wins on courts two and three, respectively.

 

 

Heading into this weekend's matches, MSU will be looking to add two more wins to its record.

"The focus this week is that it's time to win," head coach Gene Orlando said. "We're 0-3 and after this weekend it's almost the halfway point, so we need to get some results behind us. We are playing teams ranked higher than we are, but it will be a different type of pressure this week. We have to get over the hump and say we're going to win this match. The goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year mean that we have to find a way to win this weekend."

JP Unbeaten in Conference Play
Sophomore John Patrick Mullane is off to a quick start in Big Ten play, tallying a 3-0 mark. Mullane finished the non-conference slate at 4-5, but has definitely turned up his play in the early goings of conference play. Mullane's three singles wins have come against then-No. 26 Michigan, then-No. 27 Penn State, and then-No. 2 Ohio State. His win last weekend over Ohio State came against Herkko Pollanen, the then-No. 120 ranked singles player in the country, in straight sets.

Success in conference play may becoming a trend for Mullane, as he posted an 8-2 Big Ten record during his freshman season in 2012-13.

"When it's game time, he elevates his game and it doesn't matter who he plays," Orlando said. "He's one of our fiercest competitors. Forget about the X's and O's and how you hit the ball, it's how you compete and that's what it's about. He's a competitor before a tennis player."

"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.

About Nebraska
The Cornhuskers come to East Lansing with an 9-7 overall record and a 1-1 conference mark. Nebraska is 2-2 against ranked opponents, including defeating then-No. 52 Denver and then-No. 58 Wisconsin. Under Kerry McDermott, in his 31st year as head coach, Nebraska has been ranked every week this season, reaching as high as No. 44 in early March.

In singles, Dusty Boyer is likely to play on the top court. Boyer is 8-3 on court one and 10-3 overall. Boyer's resume includes singles wins over then-No. 86 of UAB and then-No. 110 of Utah. Marc Hermann is likely to start on court two, posting a 7-4 record on that court an 8-6 overall. As a team, Nebraska is 48-28 (.631) in singles, paced by 10 wins on court four.

In doubles, Nebraska is 22-16 (.579) as a team. Brandon Videtich and Bradford Zitsch have played every match on court one and are 6-8. Court three leads the way for the Huskers, tallying an 8-2 mark.

In the teams' last regular-season meeting, April 14, 2013, MSU outlasted Nebraska, 5-2, in Lincoln, Neb. Lied, Pfister, Mullane and Linders all picked up singles wins for the Spartans.

In the teams' last meeting in East Lansing, MSU defeated Nebraska 5-2, on April 15, 2012. Lied, Pfister and Linders are among the current Spartans who contributed to the win.

Since Nebraska joined the conference in the 2010-11 season, MSU is 2-0 against them.

About Iowa
The Hawkeyes are 9-5 this season and 1-1 in conference play. Iowa slipped into the ITA rankings on Feb. 25, coming in at No. 55. Iowa has been ranked in every poll since, but has gradually slipped down to No. 71. Iowa is just 1-3 against ranked teams, with its lone win coming against then-No. 39 Minnesota. The Hawkeyes are just 1-5 away from Iowa City. Steve Houghton is in his 33rd season as head coach.

In singles, Iowa is 56-28 (.667) as a team, paced by 10 wins apiece one courts one and four. Jonas Dierckx is 10-4 overall, including a 9-3 tally on court one. Court two has two possibilities for starters, as Brian Alden is 4-1 on that court and Juan Estenssoro is 4-3.

In doubles, Iowa is 27-12 (.692) as a team, with 12 wins coming from court three. Alden and Michael Swank are 7-5 on court one, and Matt Hagan and Joey White 7-1 on court three, leading the team in wins.

In the teams' last meeting, April 12, 2013, MSU defeated Iowa, 5-2, in Iowa City, Iowa. Pfister, Lied, Mullane, Linders, and Harry Jadun all picked up singles wins for the Spartans.

In the teams' last meeting in East Lansing, April 14, 2012, MSU nearly swept Iowa, 6-1. Pfister and Linders are among the current Spartans who picked up singles wins that day.

MSU has won its last three matches against Iowa.

Next Up
The Spartans hit the road next weekend as they travel to No. 7 Illinois April 4 and No. 23 Northwestern on April 6.

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