April 22, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The No. 58 Indiana men's tennis match against No. 39 Michigan on Sunday, April 23, will be the final home contest in the careers of seniors Neil Kenner, Dmytro Ishtuganov and Daniel Schoch. The Hoosiers host the Wolverines at the Varsity Tennis Courts at noon.
Kenner and Ishtuganov have played three seasons for the Hoosiers and are having their best seasons in the cream and crimson this season. The duo has helped turnaround the Hoosiers season. With a 5-6 record in early March, Ishtuganov and Kenner led IU to victories in 11 of its last 13 matches. IU is 16-8 overall this season and 5-4 in Big Ten play entering the match with Michigan.
After playing sparingly in the lineup in his first two seasons, Ishtuganov moved into the No. 1 position this season. He currently holds an overall record of 21-13 with a 5-4 Big Ten ledger. In the latest Fila/ITA singles rankings, Ishtuganov earned the first ranking of his career coming in at the No. 112 spot. He has defeated four ranked opponents this season.
Kenner struggled with injuries his first two seasons with the Hoosiers, but has made his mark as a leader this season. The Dallas, Texas native has won eight straight matches entering the Michigan affair and is 17-9 overall on the season. Playing primarily at the No. 4 position, Kenner owns the top Big Ten singles record at 6-2. He has also teamed with sophomore Michael McCarthy to form one of the hottest doubles teams in the Big Ten. The duo is 10-3 overall and 6-1 in conference play. They have won 10 of their last 11 matches as a pair.
Schoch is in his fourth season as a team manager for the men's tennis program. Head coach Ken Hydinger calls Schoch an `unsung hero.' The Greenwood, Ind., native is majoring in journalism and English, and plans to attend law school at the competition of his senior year. Schoch won a state championship at Center Grove High School in 1999.
IUHOOSIERS.com sat down with Indiana head coach Ken Hydinger along with seniors Dmytro Ishtuganov and Neil Kenner to get their take on the season and their careers at Indiana.
Senior Neil Kenner
On his experience at Indiana:
NK: "It definitely has been a very special experience for me playing here the last three years. There have been some ups and downs. I think the way myself and the team has reacted to everything and handled every situation we have been in has been good. I think this year a lot of people look at our team at the beginning of the year and probably didn't see a very talented team given the players we lost. Everyone has come together as a whole and has really worked hard. I think the team that we are now is completely different from the team we were back in January or even in the fall. I am excited, and I think we can still do some big things. Being that Dmytro and I don't have any more time after this, hopefully we can get in the tournament and do a little damage."
On battling injuries and his maturity:
NK: "I have been unfortunate with injuries. God blessed me with an injury-prone body. I have been doing everything I possibly can, not to make my injuries get back with a lot of rehab and preventative stuff. I guess my mentality this year even if I am injured and I am still play, I have matured and developed the ability to win despite a bunch of minor injuries."
On the team's unity:
NK: "It has been great. It didn't happen over night. We have all been preaching and trying to develop this process. It is about things as little as cheering for your teammates, patting them on the back, telling them good job, pushing each other when we aren't working hard enough. And just looking out for each other and being there for each other. I think that if I need anything of my teammates, every single one of them would have my back no matter what. I would do the same for them. These are like my best friends here."
Senior Dmytro Ishtuganov
On his experience at Indiana:
DI: "It was definitely very exciting to be a part of a nice tennis program. I have always been on the team with excellent players and extremely nice guys. I am happy that I chose Indiana for my tennis career. Also, I have also enjoyed school quite a bit. The social life was tremendous, and everyone has been real helpful to me. I have established really good relationships with everyone at IU."
On his improvement this season:
DI: "This season has made me a lot happier than the previous season. I am thankful to my coaches, who trained me really hard. Thanks to their help, I achieved so much progress that I could move from the bench to the top of the lineup. Also, the guys have pushed me really hard in practice. They have been great competitors in practice and great teammates. I give credit to myself, but I also give credit to my entire team for my achievements."
On the team's development this season:
DI: "First of all, we have a group of guys that are better outdoor players than indoor players. The transition from indoor to outdoor helped us a lot. We also had some trouble with injuries. There were times this year where we haven't played up to our potential, but we have played closer to that since we moved outside. The difference between winning and losing in college is really small. Every match especially in the Big Ten Conference is such a tight contest. If one team is only playing at 80 percent, then the other team is more than likely going to win."
Head Coach Ken Hydinger
On the success of Dmytro and Neil:
KH: "Both have matured and that is the main thing. They have been under fire at times and they have learned to respond to it and take responsibility. Instead of looking for the easy way out, they are taking the bull by the horns. Neil has had some trouble with physical injuries and he is working through them and playing through them. Dmytro's game has improved, but he is believing in himself more and expecting more out of himself. I think they have gone from boys to getting toward the men's side of it. It has been fun to see."
On the leadership of his seniors:
KH: "Dmytro and Neil have been leaders. They have faced the things that have been toughest for them and took responsibly for making them right. I think when our team struggled before, we kind of wanted to come in the back door. They wanted to get in a position to win and hope someone would help them or the other guys would lose for them. They have taken the responsibility that we have to go all out on this and we have to do it ourselves. The team unity is a lot better because everyone understands. Neil has been a very big vocal leader. He has stepped up and made some statements. Dmytro has grown into a leader through his actions. He came out this fall and didn't lose a set this fall in challenge matches. It was a great mindset change for him and a toughness change. He went from hoping to I am going to take control of things. The guys have seen that and sensed it. It is important when your guys at top does that because he sets the tone. He can bring you down or lift you up. Dmytro has done a great job with that.
On senior manager Daniel Schoch:
KH: "Daniel is unbelievable. The manager is the unsung guy. He is always thinking ahead. He has the matches all set up. We don't have to worry about the little things because Daniel looks ahead and takes care of it. He has always had great personal initiative. He is a self starter. He is going to law school and is going to be such a success in life. Daniel has great character. He never said anything negative. He comes to work every day, does his job and often times doesn't get thanked for it. He is a rock and a guy that you can really depend on. You could put everything you have with Daniel and you know it would be secure. He is a good man."
On the three seniors:
KH: "All these guys, Neil, Dmytro and Daniel, have been good citizens. They have been respectful and appreciative of things they have been given, and they have done a good job of working. I hope that on Sunday some folks can come out, be here for their last home match and show them some appreciation because they have put in some years of hard work. I know they love Indiana University."