Muncie, Ind.- The Indiana men's tennis team had to come from behind, but regained their winning form as they downed No. 60 Ball State, 4-3. The Hoosiers improved to 9-1 on the season, while snapping Ball State's five-match winning streak.
"I was really disappointed with the way the guys played in doubles," Indiana interim head coach Matt Pledger said. "I was pleased with the way they played in singles though. They went out there and go the job done."
Ball State started fast as they swept the doubles. Indiana appeared to have things in hand as they were up a break at all three position, but couldn't hold the leads.
At the No. 1 spot, senior Zach Held and sophomore Ryan Recht fell in a close 9-7 match to Kevin Burnett and Matt Baccarani. Indiana's Viktor Libal and Petr Novotny dropped an 8-6 decision to Patrick Thompson and Chris Varga of Ball State at No. 2. The losses dropped both squads to 6-4 on the season.
The No. 3 doubles position didn't fair much better for the Hoosiers. Sophomore Jakub Praibis and freshman John Stone lost only their second match of the season, 8-4, to Klint Knable and Brade Rhodes. The IU tandem still has an 8-2 mark this season.
"We got on top of them by a break on every court (in doubles) and then let it slip away," Pledger said. "I was livid after the doubles. I told them that once they get an opponent down, I expect them to nail their opponent to the wall."
The Hoosiers responded to Pledger's challenge by rattling off the first four wins in singles to claim the team victory.
Libal upped his record to 8-7 overall, while clinching the match for the Hoosiers with a three set win over Matt Baccarani. After Libal dropped the first set 6-1, he rebounded to win the next two, 6-4, 6-2.
"Viktor got down early, but really played smart tennis after that and clinched the match for us," Pledger said.
Sophomore Jakub Praibis won his 10th match of the season as he was the first Hoosier off the court in singles. The Czech Republic native won in straight sets at No. 1 over Chris Varga, 6-4, 6-0. Praibis also downed Varga last season in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 3 singles spot. He is now 10-4 on the season and 8-2 this spring.
"Jakub played an awesome match," Pledger said. "He played one of his best matches this season. He played with a lot of confidence, and I think it showed."
Sophomore Ryan Recht ended a personal two-match losing streak with a straight sets win at No. 5 singles. He downed Klint Knable, 6-1, 6-4. The win improved Recht's overall mark to 9-5.
Senior Zach Held downed Matt Laramore at No. 4 singles, 6-4, 6-4. The two were teammates at North Central High School in Indianapolis, Ind. Held has now won three of his last four matches and improves to 7-3 this season.
With the match already over, Ball State won super tie-breakers at No. 3 and No. 6 singles to narrow the final margin. BSU's Patrick Thompson downed Julien Vulliez, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 1-0 (9) at the No. 6 spot. Senior Petr Novotny lost his second straight match as he fell 7-6 (4), 5-7, 1-0 (9) to Ball State's No. 3 singles player, Kevin Burnett.
"I was happy with Julien and Petr fighting through even though the match was over," Pledger said. "Petr has been in a slump, but he did a good job getting back into the match. He got down early in the super tie-breaker, but fought back."
The No. 42 Hoosiers won their sixth match over a ranked opponent this season. Indiana will travel to Champaign, Ill. on Saturday where they will take on No. 32 Miami (Florida). The Hurricanes are 5-1 on the season and have two singles players ranked in the top 100. Todd Widom is ranked No. 18, while teammate John Hoyes is 86th. The match will carry a 1:00 p.m. start time.
No. 42 Indiana 4, No. 60 Ball State 3
Singles No. 1 Jakub Praibis (IU) def. Chris Varga (BSU) 6-4, 6-0
No. 2 Viktor Libal (IU) def. Matt Baccarani (BSU) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
No. 3 Kevin Burnett (BSU) def. Petr Novotny (IU) 7-6 (4), 5-7, 1-0 (9)
No. 4 Zach Held (IU) def. Matt Laramore (BSU) 6-4, 6-4
No. 5 Ryan Recht (IU) def. Klint Knable (BSU) 6-1, 6-4
No. 6 Patrick Thompson (BSU) def. Julien Vulliez (IU) 5-7, 7-6 (4), 1-0 (9)