Indiana men’s tennis’ late singles rally falls short against South Florida

The Indiana men’s tennis team traveled to Sunshine State to take on South Florida Bulls No. 65 University in its penultimate nonconference game of the spring season.

The March outing was the second consecutive game in which the Hoosiers faced an opponent ranked in the top 75 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and played on the outside fields. The weather in Tampa Bay, Florida, reported temperatures of over 80 degrees with 63 percent humidity in the afternoon.

“We haven’t really seen that time since the summer, but it was something we talked about,” said coach Jeremy Wurtzman. “We had a practice day and we felt good, but until you’re out playing, it’s hard to simulate those mental and physical feelings of playing in that kind of heat and humidity.”

Florida’s fierce weather proved a bit overwhelming for the Hoosiers, especially after a one-hour round of doubles contests during which all three games were decided by the tiebreakers.

Indiana junior Luka Vukovic and sophomore Michael Andre left the No. 3 doubles match at the South Florida pairing of junior Sergio Gomez Montesa and sophomore Alvin Tudorica 6-7 (2-7). Immediately after the conclusion of the first game, Indiana Sophomore No. 2 team Ilya Tiraspolsky and senior Patrick Fletchall responded with a 7-6 (7-4) victory over South Florida junior Chase Ferguson and sophomore Manuel Goncalves.

The decisive match for the doubles point fell to former Hoosier Carson Haskins and Vikash Singh in the No. 1 position. and lost 6-7 (1-7), which sealed the double point for the Bulls.

“I think we were just like them today,” Wurtzman said. “The doubles point was extremely close, and across the singles line, we were in most games.”

In contrast to its 0-7 sweep against an Auburn University top-25 team last week, Indiana came on the scoreboard twice against South Florida. The final score was 5-2 in favor of the Bulls, but many of the singles games came to a close.

Losses in the No. 1, 4th and 5th singles sealed the fate of Hoosiers, but much of their best play came after the loss became official.

Fletchall was beaten by an early deficit to head out and finally take the No. 2 spot in singles 3-6, 6-4, 10-6. Indiana’s second-place finish was ranked No. 6 by Andre, who won seven straight against sophomore Bruno Oliveira 6-4, 6-4.

Wurtzman said Indiana must do two things to “get over the hump” and be able to finish against strong competition: practice harder and win one of its tight matches.

“If we can push harder and do a little extra work, it will pay off, because we’re not far behind,” Wurtzman said. “Maybe we need to win once and for all to believe that we can do to move forward and get more victories and momentum.”

Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person in Tampa Bay.

“It’s a privilege to be below that and to be able to play a ranked, high-quality opponent,” Wurtzman said. “The more we work out and work harder, the better off we will be.”

Indiana will continue its ranked competition streak on March 23 against 29 Vanderbilt University. The game will be played in Nashville, Tennessee, after being rescheduled for an earlier date in the season, and is the Hoosiers’ last non-conference tournament of the season.

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