Bloomington, Ind.- The No. 45 Indiana men's tennis team completed a difficult set of weekend matches with a hard fought 5-2 win over No. 54 Memphis. Indiana downed No. 37 Louisville yesterday by the same 5-2 score. The Hoosiers improved to 6-0 on the season and beat their fourth ranked opponent of the year.
"It got real tight there for a while, I got pretty nervous," Indiana interim head coach Matt Pledger said. "These guys from Memphis played hard and played with a lot of guts. They made us earn every single one of these points out here. I got to give a lot of credit to our guys for hanging in there because these are some really good players they were against."
The final tally was closer than the score would indicate. With the match tied at two and three matches left to play, two of which were in third sets, it was up in the air as to who would walk away with the win.
Indiana slowly chipped away, and it all started at No. 1 with sophomore sensation Jakub Praibis. Praibis won a hard fought 7-6 (7) first set and then broke Memphis' Lee Walker in the second. He served out the match for the 6-3 win. Taylor was ranked No. 119, and it marked Praibis' fourth win and second straight over a ranked opponent. Praibis is now 8-2 on the season and 6-0 during the spring.
Pledger gave Memphis a lot of credit for their sportsmanship. "They have a lot of good sportsman on their team. Lee Walker is such a nice guy, and him and Jakub had a great match. Ben Stapp at No. 2 was a really good gentleman and good sportsman. He had a really good match with Viktor (Libal)."
Indiana needed one of the two final matches to claim the victory and senior Petr Novotny stepped up first. After winning the first set 6-4 and losing the second set 6-1, Novotny won the last four games after the his third set with Joe Schmulian was tied at two. The win improved Novotny's record to 5-1 this season.
Sophomore Ryan Recht put the icing on the cake as he went on to win his three set match. Recht won the first set 6-3 and dropped the second 6-7 to Brendan Malarkey. He then picked up the third set 6-3 for the victory. Recht improved to 7-3 overall and 5-1 in dual matches.
The Hoosiers started the match off on the right foot winning the doubles point. It marked the fifth time in six matches IU won the doubles point. Freshman John Stone and Praibis were the first off the court as they downed Malarkey and Jago of Memphis, 8-4. The tandem is now a perfect 6-0 this season. Novotny and freshman Viktor Libal were quick to follow with an 8-6 win over Schmulian and Bucewicz. The duo is 4-2 this season. Despite sticking tough, senior Zach Held and Recht couldn't pull off their second straight upset as they lost to the 12th-ranked Walker and Stapp, 8-6.
"Viktor and Petr lost a tough doubles match yesterday, and they came out and didn't think about that at all. That was a huge win for them. They faced a good doubles team and pulled out a big victory for us. It made a big difference in the score. If (Memphis) would have won that, it would have come down to the last match out there. The whole outcome could have been different because you don't know how guys are going to perform when they are the last guys out on the court and the match is on the line."
Sophomore Julien Vulliez continued to look good, as he remained perfect at 6-0 on the spring season. Vulliez downed Alex Jago in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. He is now 10-3 on the season overall.
The Hoosiers will hit the road next weekend for a pair of Big Ten tilts against both Northwestern and Wisconsin. IU will travel to Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Feb. 15 and then to Madison, Wis. on Sunday, Feb. 16. Both matches will carry 12:00 p.m. start times.
No. 45 Indiana 5, No. 54 Memphis 2
No. 1 Jakub Praibis (IU) def. Lee Walker (UM) 7-6 (7), 6-3
No. 2 Ben Stapp (UM) def. Viktor Libal (UM) 6-4, 7-6 (4)
No. 3 Petr Novotny (IU) def. Joe Schmulian (UM) 6-4, 1-6, 6-2
No. 4 Alex Bucewicz (UM) def. Zach Held (IU) 6-2, 6-4
No. 5 Ryan Recht (IU) def. Brendan Malarkey (UM) 6-3, 6-7, 6-3
No. 6 Julien Vulliez (IU) def. Alex Jago (UM) 6-3, 6-4