Over the weekend the men’s tennis squad fell 5-2 to the Wisconsin Badgers, snapping their three match winning streak. The match was the first one of the Big Ten conference schedule.
The Spartans started off slow, losing the doubles point as one doubles redshirt senior Jack Winkler and junior Kazuki Matsuno fell to Junior Robin Parts and Senior Sebastian Vile and three doubles sophomores Luke Baylis and Graydon Lair dropped their match against senior Lenard Soha and sophomore Mihailo Popovic.
To Baylis, the doubles matches were eye opening in regards to the fact that picking up the level of play was necessary to have a chance in the singles matches.
“They came out pretty hot, we started kind of bad,” Baylis said. “In singles we really had to come out strong. I was talking to Jack (Winkler) right before the singles and we were both like ‘We need to get these first three games each’ and we both did.”
Although Baylis and Winkler both got those first three points, and the only singles wins on the day, it was not enough overall to fend off the Badgers.
All but one of the singles matches were decided in straight sets as four singles Lair dropped the final match in three sets to Parts (6-3, 3-6, 4-5).
Wisconsin came in on a two game losing skid but Michigan State Men's Tennis Head Coach Gene Orlando did not overlook them because of that.
“Every Big Ten match is going to be a battle, I do not care if they are zero and 10 and we are 10 and zero,” Orlando said. “You have to expect the opponent’s best and they played well. The two teams that they lost to are very good teams outdoors and they are a solid team. Unfortunately we were not able to capitalize on a few matches to turn the match around.”
One of the only winners of the day for the Spartan’s had to fight through a lot of health uncertainties to get to where he is now.
During Winkler’s junior year he noticed he wasn’t himself and he was diagnosed with ulcerous colitis. Now, in his redshirt senior year, he is giving it all on the court to help his team as much as he can.
“There were times where I thought it would never be possible,” said Winkler. “This is something special. Not everybody gets to do what I do on a daily basis.”
Although Winkler is happy to be back on the court, losing does not contribute to that feeling.
“It obviously feels a little bit better when you win as a team,” Winkler said.
Some former Spartan athletes were in the crowd as Kansas City Chief Shilique Calhoun and former men’s basketball captain Matt McQuaid made their way to the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility to cheer on the squad.
Calhoun, who was in town training with pass rush specialist and MSU defensive ends coach Brandon Jordan, recognizes that it is important to support all Spartan athletics, not just the ones that make the most money.
“I think that it's important to support Spartans in general,” Calhoun said. “It is always about being there for one another. I think if you bleed green the positivity of being here brings a lot of positivity to the team and just seeing that there is camaraderie between the different sports.”
Through the good and the bad, the camaraderie should never waver.
The Spartans followed suit from their Friday performance on Sunday, falling to Nebraska 4-3, which moves them to 0-2 in conference play on the season. Their record now sits at 13-7 as they will look to snap their two match losing skid Friday as they head to Evanston, Illinois to face Northwestern.
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