The SIU men’s tennis team split its weekend series against Missouri Valley Conference foes Creighton and Drake.
The Salukis started Saturday with a 6-1 win against Creighton in Omaha, Neb., and Sunday with a 7-0 sweep at Drake in Des Moines, Iowa. The Salukis are 7-12 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
Saturday’s match started with doubles play; the Salukis won two out of three matches to win the doubles point.
After No. 1 doubles seed senior Stanislas Rodier and junior Brandon Flores lost 8-3, the bottom two doubles seeds picked up the slack of their teammates. No. 2 doubles seed senior Orhan Spahic and freshman Szymon Opieczonek squeaked out a 9-8 win, and No. 3 seed juniors Badr Cherradi and Jordan Snyder clinched the double point with an 8-6 victory.
Coach Dann Nelson said the momentum gained from the doubles point carried over to the team’s singles play.
“(The doubles point) is big, especially when you play a team that you’re kind of close with,” Nelson said. “To get that doubles point just gives you that extra boost and now you know you can win the team match by splitting the singles (matches).”
In singles play, the Salukis dropped only one singles match against the Blue Jays.
No. 1 singles player Cherradi was dominate in a third set tiebreak for a 6-7, 6-3, 10-1 win. Rodier won a close match 7-5, 7-6 to extend his winning streak to three games. Seeds three and four continued the wins as Florez and Spahic won 6-3, 6-3 and 7-6, 6-4, respectively. Opieczonek dropped his match at No. 6, 6-3, 6-4, but junior Rafael Cuadrillero won at No. 5, 6-3, 6-4.
Cuadrillero turned around his season with his second win in a row and five victories out of his last seven completed matches. The sophomore started the season with a five-game losing streak and said his consistent play and increased intensity during training has contributed to his turnaround.
“I found a way to play my game and stay consistent in every point,” Cuadrillero said. “We’ve been working really hard on conditioning lately, and that has made a lot of difference.’
The Salukis entered the match against then-49 ranked Drake after a long drive to face the Bulldogs. Nelson said Drake came into the match fresher than the Salukis as they were off the day before and had travel-free legs. Drake defeated Salukis 7-0.
In doubles play, No. 3 and No. 1 seeds Cuadrillero and Florez and Cherradi and Snyder both lost 8-4. No. 2 doubles Opieczonek and Spahic dropped their match 8-3. The match was moved inside because of bad weather conditions, though Nelson said it did not negatively affect his team.
Singles play against Drake snapped many of the Salukis’ winning streaks. Rodier had his three-game streak broken with a 6-1, 6-1 loss at No. 2 singles. Cherradi, Cuadrillero, and Florez’s two-game winning streaks stopped with 6-2, 7-5; 6-4, 6-1 and 6-2, 6-0 losses, respectively.
Cherradi said he felt like he was overpowered by his opponent from Drake at times.
“I was up 4-3 during the second set, but he was just better than me,” he said.
Nelson said confidence is high as the Salukis return for their final two home matches when they face Bradley University Saturday and Illinois State University Sunday.