The University of Indianapolis men’s and women’s tennis teams advanced in their goals for nationals last weekend on Feb. 18 and 19, both notching wins against Eastern Kentucky University and Bowling Green University.
The women got the first win of the weekend against Bowling Green State University. Junior Florence Renard won in both singles and doubles, taking her singles opponent in three matches with a loss of 6-2, and two wins 7-5 and 6-2. Along with doubles partner Hanna Volikova, Renard also overcame the Falcons’ duo 9-7. Senior Selenay Heper defeated her singles opponent in just two matches, and junior Mara Hofstetter won by default. The last win in doubles came from junior Dana Olsen and junior Paige Olsen, also by default. Together the team pulled out a win 5-4.
The men’s team also came out with a 4-3 win over its Division I opponent Eastern Kentucky University on Feb. 19. Senior Arklon Huertas del Pino, senior Nils Hoffacker and junior Christoph Drechsler all won their singles matches in just two sets. In doubles action, duos senior Marco Razo and Hoffacker defeated their opponents 6-2, while Drechsler and sophomore Magnus Mueller overcame their opponents 7-6. Both pairs have remained undefeated during the spring season.
The previous weekend on Feb. 10, the men’s team took its first loss to the the Butler University Bulldogs, while the women gained another win against the Valparaiso University Crusaders.
Duo Hoffacker and senior Razo opened the Feb. 10 match with an 8-2 victory over their Bulldog opponents. Then the doubles teams of Drechsler and Mueller and Pino and junior Andrea Morlet picked up another pair of wins for the Hounds. The Bulldogs came backs in singles play and limited UIndy to only one win which was contributed by Pino. The Bulldogs pulled ahead with a close win 5-4.
On the same day, the women’s team swept Valparaiso University to take home the third win for the Hounds. In doubles, Dana and Olsen quickly defeated their opponents 8-1, before Dana went on to defeat her singles opponent as well, with two wins of 6-3 and 1-0 and one loss of 6-4. Redshirt junior Stephanie Hirsch and partner Heper finished doubles play with an 8-4 win. Hirsch and Heper also won in singles play, both in just two sets.
The women are ranked 16th in Division II, and Hirsch followed by Volikova have won GLVC Player of the Week for two consecutive weeks. According to Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach Malik Tabet, these are great personal accomplishments for the players but the main focus is on the team’s accomplishments.
“We have a very good team,” Tabet said. “This is a team thing. So when we have one player shining, it’s great on a personal level. When it comes down to spring, it’s more of a team effort, so everybody has to shine.”
Hirsch expects the team to be successful this year, and hopefully make it to nationals.
“We want to win the conference again,” Hirsch said. “We want to win regionals and then go to nationals and make one round, if possible. My personal goal is to not lose a match.”
According to Morlet, this is the best team that UIndy men’s tennis has seen. Currently, the players are focused on getting through regionals before they think ahead to nationals. The remainder of the regular season will help them prepare for these events.
“My personal goal is winning all of my matches with my doubles partner Arklon,” Morlet said. “And as a team, I think we have the strongest team we’ve ever had before. We lost one match against Butler, but I think if we try to fix all of the small issues we have and practice hard, I think that we can win regionals and conference as well.”
Both Morlet and Hirsch have been successful with their current doubles partners, and credit much of that to the chemistry. Morlet said having a bond with the whole team is important, but a strong connection among doubles partners makes a huge impact on the court.
“I think obviously [you need a bond] with everyone. We are teammates and we are family. But i think to play doubles, you have to play with the one you have the most connection with. And I think that’s why me and Arklon play so well together, because the first match we felt like we had this connection between us. And I think that’s a big advantage for us.”
Hirsch also has a strong connection with her partner, Heper.
“It is a huge part to communicate with your partner and to have this connection. It’s different when you place with someone you’ve never played with than playing with a person you know. The one I’m playing with now, I’m good friends with her, and that’s a huge part. And we talk a lot outside of the tennis court about doubles and things we need to work on.”
Next the men will travel to Big Rapids Mo. to take on Ferris State University on Feb. 24 at 1 p.m., while the women travel to St. Louis, Mo., to battle Northwest Missouri State University on March 5.