The University of Indianapolis men’s and women’s tennis teams have both recently competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division II Indoor Championship with the men’s team being runner-ups, according to UIndy Athletics. According to men’s and women’s tennis Head Coach Malik Tabet, both teams have been a pleasure to work with this year due to their great work ethic and willingness to compete. Tabet said the men’s team has developed a strong culture and a strong fighting spirit this year.
“On the men’s side, playing at home, making it to the championship match was definitely part of our expectations. We lost to a very good team,[and I’m] very proud of what my student-athletes have accomplished, especially in front of their home crowd,” Tabet said. “Every match was an electric atmosphere at the tennis center, and we really enjoyed this experience. And that’s all about what we’re trying to do as an institution, [is] give our student-athletes the best experience possible.”
The men’s team started the tournament against the number one ranked team, Barry University, where the Greyhounds won the match 4-0, according to UIndy Athletics. Sophomore tennis player Edgar Destouet said after previously suffering a loss to Barry University last year, it was tough to have to face that team first in the competition.
“[We were] super excited at the end of the game. [Tennis SID] Jacob [Walton] just asked me some questions, to [ask] how it feels… It felt so good. It was tough to realize [the win],” Destouet said. “And then we went to the restaurant with all the team, we all ate together, the energy was so nice. We were all super happy, coach was super happy. But we tried to keep our composure for the rest of the tournament because it was just one match. And I think we managed well to keep going in [the] tournament and stay focused on the process.”
Destouet stated the men’s team was nervous but despite the nerves there was an overall feeling of having nothing to lose and energy was high. According to sophomore tennis player Louis Picaud, going in he knew the team was prepared and knew they would play well.
“I did expect we would play very well, but I didn’t expect to destroy them like that. I think mentally we were way more motivated than them. We saw it on the court; we shoot for each other,” Picaud said. “I think it was a logical result. We really show[ed] them we were here on the court. And we were fighter[s], then after, against Wayne State, we kept the energy.”
After beating Barry University and advancing to the next round, the Greyhounds defeated Wayne State University 4-2 before losing to Saint Leo University in the final, according to UIndy Athletics.
“We celebrated a lot. But again, we knew that we still had one match to [try to] win… We tried to keep our composure and stay focused. We were all super proud of everybody…,” Destouet said. “I feel like the energy of the team during all the tournaments, the brotherhood, it was super important for us”
For the women’s side, they were defeated by Hawaii Pacific University in the first round, but later won matches against Flagler College and the University of Nebraska at Kearney, according to UIndy Athletics. Tabet said having the women’s team lose the first round was difficult but seeing the women’s team bounce back and learn from the loss made the trip worthwhile. Fifth-year women’s tennis player Anna Novikova said the team felt down and disappointed after the loss to the Sharks but the next day, the team met and set both an individual and team goal. Novikova said the next two days of the competition the team became a closer family.
“I think it was a good experience for the freshmen, and they [hadn’t seen] the national level because before this, we didn’t play that many matches against top teams. And also it was the first time that we played until clinch, so every match counts,” Novikova said. “And I think it really helped us to actually understand that it’s not [an] individual sport anymore. We’re playing as a team. It was a big learning process for all of us. Even though I’m [doing] my fifth season, every season you learn new things, and I think also we learn how to adapt to each other, how to support each other and we understand each other better now and then.”
Tabet stated he feels good about the overall state of both the men’s and women’s tennis teams and the program as a whole and being among the top ten teams in the nation is an accomplishment. According to UIndy Athletics, both the men’s and women’s teams will compete in Florida from March 15-19.
“I would like to thank everybody who came to support us, and also our coach and our assistant coaches,” Destouet said. “They were super. They tried to help us a lot, and obviously, it works.”