Photo by Anthony Fiorella / MTSU Sidelines
Story by Darius Horton / Sports Reporter
The Middle Tennessee men’s tennis team returned to the Adams Tennis Complex to take on Big Ten opponent Indiana in front of 568 MTSU fans on Friday. Despite clinching the doubles point, the Blue Raiders lost by a final score of 4-3 for their first loss at home this season.
Gonzalo Morell Raschiatore and Miguel Negre Fernandez secured the first doubles victory by defeating their opponents by a 6-4 tally. In his first doubles appearance of the season, Jan Porteset was paired alongside Gian Issa, and they won their match 6-3 to clinch the opening point for Middle Tennessee.
The Blue Raiders have enjoyed more success this season in doubles play, something they credit to a better work ethic in practice.
“We’ve just been practicing really hard,” Issa said after the match. “We’ve been really competitive in our practices, so that pushes guys to do really well.”
The team’s improvement in doubles has not gone unnoticed by the man in charge, as the head coach knows how much of a struggle it was at times last season.
“Last year, it wasn’t (as good as it is now),” said head coach Jimmy Borendame. “In the offseason, I made some adjustments. We added Chris Edge and Jan Porteset … they both can play (doubles really well).”
In singles competition, the Blue Raiders were far less successful and lost four of the six matches. Issa took the number five match by a score of 6-2, 7-5, while Morell was victorious in the final match of the night with a 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 (10-4) tally.
Despite the team losing, Issa continued his solid play at home as of late. When the match was on the line, the senior didn’t waver and buried his opponent to pull MTSU within a point of the Hoosiers.
“I’m just playing really confident tennis,” Issa said. “Since the fall, I have been playing really well. When I went home for winter break, I kept working … it’s my last year, so I have had experience in those close moments.”
Borendame knows that Issa has come a long way since he arrived in Murfreesboro, and it all started with a better mindset in the classroom.
“Gian was (playing well) his sophomore year, and then his season was derailed by an injury,” Borendame said. “He had some rough stuff (happen) with his academics, and I am really proud of him, because he has turned everything full circle. He’s a super student now as a senior … when we are doing great in school, we are doing great on the tennis court.”
Middle Tennessee will hit the practice courts before traveling to play Wichita State on Feb. 17 in Wichita, Kansas, at 1 p.m.