The SIU men’s tennis team earned a split with Austin Peay University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in a doubleheader this weekend.
The Salukis lost to Austin Peay 4-3 Friday in front of home crowd at Sports Blast. Singles play prevented the Salukis from capturing the win as their top three seeds fell to their Governor opponents. On Sunday, the Saluki men improved their singles play, and won the meet 5-2 overall against SIUE.
No. 1 seed junior Badr Cherradi lost a close match 7-5, 6-4 in.
Though he lost, Cherradi used every kind of shot to try and defeat his opponent.
“I was trying to play my game and not his,” Cherradi said. “I was up 3-2 in the first set … I had a perfect drop shot and I just missed an easy volley. I was kind of thinking about it during the match.”
No. 2 seeded singles player junior Stanislas Rodier lost his match 6-2, 6-4, and No. 3 seed junior Brandon Florez fell 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Florez was able to battle during a close second set, but he said the extra set left him fatigued.
“It was very, very draining. It was a very physical match,” Florez said.
After winning the first set, Florez said he ramped up his intensity to try for a victory. But after he dropped a tie-break and missed a playable ball, Florez lost the second set and said he was drained physically and emotionally, which eventually caused him to drop the match.
“I worked my butt off to get there, put myself in position, didn’t do it. Then had to come out for the third set,” Florez said. “I was rushing to get back on the court and wasn’t comfortable from then on.”
Freshman Martijn Admiraal won his singles match 6-2, 6-4 for the first singles win of the meet. Junior Orhan Spahic wrapped up singles play with a 4-6, 7-6, 10-4 win, pulling off a victory after forcing a tiebreak set.
In doubles play, the Salukis won in thrilling fashion.
The fans were on their feet cheering as Spahic and partner freshman Szymon Opieczonek clinched the doubles point for the Salukis in a extra game, winning 9-7.
Partners Cherradi and Rodier also won their match 8-3, but the Salukis’ No. 1 doubles team Admiraal and Florez lost for the first time this year 8-3. Despite the loss, Admiraal said there are still positives that can be taken from their performance.
“We can work on some things. Today was tough. We had our opportunities but they took them earlier,” Admiraal said. “We’ve got to work hard on doubles and make ourselves better.”
Overall, coach Dann Nelson said the team’s singles play still has room for improvement, and were a couple missed points away from victory.
“We need to play like big-point champions and not a big-point chump,” Nelson said “We’re just a few points away from a break here, a hold of serve there. We’re in these matches, we just got to get over the hump.”
The Salukis bounced back Sunday and beat SIUE 5-2. Singles seeds one through three Cherradi, Rodier and Florez defeated their opponents 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10-7); 6-1, 7-6; and 6-0, 6-2, respectively. Junior Jordan Snyder won his match as the sixth seed, 8-3.
No. 1 doubles seed Florez and Admiraal loss again against the Cougars, their second loss of the season. Cherradi and Rodier won their match 8-0 at the No. 2 seed, and three seed Opieczonek and Spahic won their match 8-3.
The Salukis return to action March 2 and March 3 in a doubleheader against Marquette University in Milwaukee and against Northern Illinois University in Rockford.