Story by Elisha Nelson / Contributing Writer
The Blue Raiders tennis team narrowly overcame Texas Tech (12-7) Friday night. The matchup between the No. 42 Red Raiders and the No. 22 ranked Blue Raiders proved to be a close one, with Middle Tennessee beating Texas Tech 4-3 in sets.
A chilly night playing in the cold didn’t slow down Middle Tennessee (21-3), who are now winners of 15 straight games. After being down on the scoreboard 3-1 thanks to a strong performance by Texas Tech in singles play, the Blue Raiders stormed back to even the score.
Oskar Poulsen had a contentious match with Red Raider France Ribero, edging out a 6-3 win. Following the victory, C-USA’s Athlete of the Week Stijn Slump fended off Isaac Arevalo for the Blue Raiders, winning in straight sets 7-5, 7-5 to bring the match score to 3-3.
Following a close head-to-head matchup, Head Coach Jimmy Borendame reflected on another tough win in the Raider matchup.
“Today was the Battle of the Raiders, we came out in the doubles strong which was very exciting, very competitive. I was telling them that ‘The Red Raiders of Texas Tech were very strong’ and they showed us today,” Borendame said. “We were ready for the battle and Francisco came through in the end. Again, I’m proud of the guys, amazing run we are on right now but we’re going to dial back a little bit, take a break, and get back to work on Monday.”
Seasoned Blue Raider Chris Edge became just the second player in program history to reach 100 career singles and doubles wins. His contest with Texas Tech’s Olle Wallin stretched three sets, with Wallin stealing the match with a strong third set.
Middle Tennessee’s Francisco Rocha closed out the night, winning the final set against opponent Reed Collier 6-4 to give the Blue Raider’s the win. The crowd chants of “Cisco” rang out as the rest of Rocha’s teammates stormed the court, piling themselves onto the night’s hero.
“We were ready for the battle and Francisco came through in the end. Again, I’m proud of the guys, amazing run we are on right now but we’re going to dial back a little bit, take a break, and get back to work on Monday,” were the words from Coach Borendame after the thrilling win.
Since their last lost to Notre Dame, Middle Tennessee now has seven wins over Power-5 schools and have the most wins in the country with 21.
The Blue Raiders will have two weeks to prepare for their Senior Day matchup at home against No. 31 Memphis and Alabama A&M in a doubleheader on April 8 at 1 and 4:30 p.m. Central time.