The SIU men’s tennis team struggled throughout during the Sun Belt Shootout on Saturday and Sunday in Tennessee.
The tournament was on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where the Salukis faced 57th-ranked South Alabama (L, 4-0) University on Saturday, and Florida Atlantic University (L, 4-0) and Austin Peay University (L, 4-0) on Sunday. The Salukis continued to struggle during the tournament, as they lost seven of their last 10 matches.
During Saturday’s match against South Alabama, coach Dann Nelson said he wanted his team to focus on winning the big points, the set-up points and game points that would decide the match. Nelson also had has team practice at a higher intensity before the tournament.
Freshman Martijn Admiraal said he could feel the benefits of the conditioning during the three games in the two-day stretch.
But the Salukis were not successful against the Jaguars and were swept 4-0. The match started with doubles play, when No. 1 doubles partners Brandon Florez and Stanislas Rodier lost 8-3. Three seed doubles partners Badr Cherradi and Jordan Snyder lost 8-3 as well.
The second seed doubles match was unfinished because the match was already decided.
Despite the lopsided doubles scores, Florez said his teammates did not lose because of a lack of effort.
“Even though we struggled, we picked up and rose our game to their level,” Florez said.
The Salukis were also swept in singles play as the Jaguars won three singles matches to decide the contest. Four seeded singles player Szymon Opieczonek lost 6-3, 6-2, two seed Cherradi lost 6-4, 6-3, and No. 1 seed Rodier lost 7-5, 6-2 to end the match.
Teams started with singles play Sunday, and for the Salukis the matches were decided before doubles play was necessary. The team was swept by FAU and Austin Peay, which resulted in the team’s winless weekend.
Against FAU, Cherradi lost 6-1, 6-1, Admiraal lost 6-1, 6-3, and fifth seed Rafael Cuadrillero lost 6-2, 6-3.
Senior Orhan Spahic was able to force a third set in his match as the fourth seed but lost 6-2, 4-6, 6-0, ending the match against the FAU Owls.
After the match, the Salukis regrouped and played against Austin Peay, and SIU lost 4-0. Florez said while fatigue was a slight factor, shot selection was the greatest problem during the match.
Despite not winning a game during the tournament, Nelson said there were positives to take from the weekend, especially heading into conference play.
“We’ve been through the battles. We’ve played several nationally ranked teams now so we know what to expect,” Nelson said. “Today I saw a fight in my team that I hadn’t seen prior.”