Seniors Lead Hoosiers to 4-3 Thriller Over Kentucky
Feb. 6, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana University men's tennis team seized an intense 4-3 victory over #47 Kentucky on Tuesday. The doubles point came down to a tie-breaker while the overall team score was decided by a three-set match in the No.1 singles match.
"I thought we really dealt with the pressure well," said Head Coach Randy Bloemendaal. "We handled this match like we were the favorites. We didn't play like we were underdogs, and it showed."
Senior leadership was key to the Hoosier's victory. In addition to winning the doubles point, Indiana's other three team points were provided by the trio of seniors arising victorious in their singles contests.
"We had really high expectations for our road trip to Iowa," said Bloemendaal. "Our seniors let us down a bit there and I didn't back off them. They responded today and led us to a win."
Doubles play last nearly two hours as each match went extra distance. After a 9-7 loss at No. 1 doubles, Peter Antons and Santiago Gruter evened things up by dominating a tie-breaker, 7-1, at No. 3 doubles. That tandem is now 5-0 in dual matches this season.
With one doubles win going in favor of each team, the doubles point centered on the team of Dara McLoughlin and Phillip Eilers. The match intensity really started to boil at this point as the No. 2 doubles match had to be decided via a tie-breaker as well. The score was 3-3 when the teams switched sides, but McLoughlin and Eilers ripped off four straight points to earn a 7-3 win and the team doubles point.
The first three singles contests rolled by quickly with Indiana winning at No. 6 singles and Kentucky taking the No. 2 and No. 5 slots. Senior Michael McCarthy was a 6-2, 6-4 victor over Shane Collins.
The intensity level inside the IU Tennis Complex continued to rise when the No. 3 and No.4 singles matches were split, leaving the overall team score at a 3-3 stalemate. Senior Dara McLoughlin represented the Hoosiers with a 7-6(3), 6-2 triumph in the fourth singles position.
In fitting fashion, the overall team score came down to a pair of seniors battling it out in the No. 1 singles match. Indiana's Thomas Richter rebounded from a 6-2 loss in the first set to force a third set against Will Ward. Richter jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the final set, breaking Ward's serve twice. Ward battled back, however, winning the next four games to take a 5-4 lead and put the set "back on serve." With both teams and a large crowd gathered around his court, Richter stopped the run with a few overpowering serves and strong ground strokes to knot the score at 5-5. He then rode the momentum to a 7-5 victory, pushing the Cream and Crimson over the top, 4-3.
"It's a big win for us, we needed this," said Richter. "When he (Ward) came back (in the third set), I had to refocus and really concentrate on every point to win the match."
The Hoosiers have a 10-day break before their next competition, another home match on Feb. 15. Indiana will compete against Middle Tennessee State at 1:30 p.m.
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