Cats busy plotting to steal sets from Cardinals’ nest (Men’s Tennis)

Tania Ganguli

The Ball State men’s tennis team suffered its first home loss of the season to Indiana last Wednesday.

Northwestern (7-2, 1-1 Big Ten) hopes to reiterate Indiana’s message on Friday: It’s going to take more than home court advantage to beat the Wildcats.

“We’ve been off to a pretty good start this year,” Ball State coach Bill Richards said before the match against Indiana. “We had a few tough losses to Michigan and Illinois, but came back pretty well by winning our last five in a row.”

Richards expected this week to be tough, but was still confident about his team’s abilities. He said that after playing Indiana, avoiding physical fatigue would be important for the Cardinals (7-3).

Despite Ball State’s homecourt success, the Cats still predict a victory, but they expect it to be a tougher win because of the unfamiliar court.

“We were favored to win two years ago when we played them in Muncie (Ind.), but it was still a tough match,” senior Russell Bennett said. “Their courts are darker and faster than we’re used to, and they’ve bee playing pretty well at home.”

None of the seniors that have played at Ball State have fond memories of the courts, but NU is confident of its road abilities no matter where they play.

“It won’t affect us because we’re a good road team,” junior Ahmed Wahla said. “We had big road wins against Arkansas and Notre Dame already this year, and I’m more motivated when the crowd is against me.”

The Cats have won five of their past seven doubles points with the help of their top doubles team of sophomore Chuck Perrin and senior Jackie Jenkins, who leapt to No. 10 in the NCAA rankings.

While Richards feels the key to his team’s success will be physical preparedness, NU sophomore Tommy Hanus does not expect to give in to the “wear and tear” of road games.

“They’re a strong team, they’re pretty deep, but I definitely think our team should beat them,” Hanus said. “We just have to hold up mentally out there.”

The Cardinals have been successful this season, a majority of which has been at home.

So far they have taken down three Big Ten teams who ventured into Muncie and are currently in the middle of a nine-match homestand.

Two of their three losses came on the road to No. 1 Illinois and Michigan.

“They’re playing well, but we’re really confident,” Wahla said. “It’s a difficult place to play, it’s not really a center —