MURFREESBORO – After losing all three of its matches in the Hilton San Diego Mission Classic last week, Middle Tennessee’s men’s tennis team (10-8) came into Friday looking to rebound, as it began play in the MT Shootout.
The fourth-seeded Blue Raiders opened play in the MT Shootout with a 4-0 shutout win against fifth-seeded Illinois State (6-10).
Doubles play has been a weak spot for the Blue Raiders this season. Coming into Friday’s match, they had not won the doubles point since they beat Tennessee State back on Feb. 28.
They changed their fortunes in doubles play on Friday. MTSU struck first with a win at No. 3. Dima Zyhmantovich and Ettore Zito took down Illinois State’s Rory Samuels and Jacob Wilson 6-2. The Redbirds evened things up with a win at No. 2. Christoffer Greve and Dylan Steffens turned back MTSU’s duo of Yannick Born and Gian Issa 6-3.
The doubles point was left up for grabs at No. 1 between Ben Davis and Victor Hoang and ISU’s Rolando Torrellas and Jakub Eisner. Davis and Hoang prevailed in the match, 6-4, securing the doubles point, and giving MTSU the 1-0 lead.
The Blue Raiders extended their lead quickly in singles play. At No. 6, Robin Riethmueller wasted no time, defeating ISU’s Samuels 6-0, 6-0. Zito was nearly as effective at No. 1 as his teammate, beating Eisner 6-2, 6-2 to give MTSU the 3-0 advantage.
MTSU clinched the match with a win at No. 2. Davis took the first set easily 6-2 over the Redbirds’ Wilson. Looking to even the match up, Wilson battled back in the second set, but Davis proved victorious with a 6-4 win. Davis’ win sealed the match, giving MTSU the 4-0 shutout victory.
The matches at No.3, 4 and 5 went unfinished after MTSU clinched the game-winning point. The matches at No. 3 and 4 looked to be headed in the right direction for MTSU, but they were close. Born won his first set at No. 3 over Torrellas 6-4. He led the second set 6-5 before the match was called. Issa was in a similar position at No. 4 with Greve. He won the first set 6-3, and was ahead 6-5 in the second set.
The best match of the day was at No. 5 between Zyhmantovich and Steffens. Zyhmantovich easily took the first set 6-2. Steffens tied things up with his 6-4 win in the second set, leaving the match in need of a third set. Steffens was ahead 4-3 in the decisive set before MTSU clinched the match victory.
The next opponent for the Blue Raiders will be Conference USA foe Old Dominion. The No. 61 nationally ranked Monarchs are 11-1 this season. Currently, they are on a four-match winning streak.
MTSU is looking to defend its title from last year’s MT Shootout, when it defeated Georgia State in the final. MTSU will continue its defense Saturday against ODU at Buck Bouldin Tennis Center. The match will begin at 2 p.m. CST.
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