The Michigan State men’s tennis team clinched a win against Penn State, 4-1 on Easter Sunday.
This win, however, didn’t come without its fair share of conflict. During MSU freshman Ozan Baris’s singles match against Penn State senior Charl Morgan, the decision was made by the referee to give a point to Baris after Morgan was allegedly heard swearing.
As for how Baris dealt with the conflict, he said he just takes a break.
“I kind of just sit down and chillax,” Baris said. “I don’t really let it affect me, you know. Just time to rest and then I’ll be ready to play whenever they say.”
Freshman David Saye also dealt with adversity on his court as some line calls came into question.
“I'm just trying to stay focused on what I'm doing,” Saye said. “You can't control what is going on the other side of the net, happens a lot out here. So you just got to stay focused and not let it affect the way you're playing and continue to play the game.”
Coach Harry Jadun said that conflicts like these come with the territory.
“It's going to happen and for me, it's my first go around as a head coach, you definitely feel a little bit more pressure and I could see how that makes people act a certain way,” Jadun said. “But really just trying to be as, I don't know, professional as possible and not get into the weeds with all that stuff.”
He said he tells the team to use conflict as motivation. For example with Saye, who used the line calls that he didn’t agree with as a motivating factor.
“I mean, the one thing we just don't want to do is escalate and just give them the back and forth,” Jadun said. “If somebody wants to talk to us, that's fine, but we're not gonna go back and forth. We're gonna cheer our guys on. Guys in the stands are gonna have some fun with it, but you know, they're not gonna cross the line.”
The day started off on a much more positive note with the team winning the doubles point.
MSU junior Graydon Lair and sophomore Max Sheldon defeated PSU’s freshman Stefan Simeunovic and junior Miko Eala 6-2. Spartans Baris and fifth-year Anthony Pero got the win over Nittany Lions Charl Morgan and graduate student Malik Bhatnagar.
Jadun said that they need to work on doubles ahead of their next match.
“Right now it’s pretty clear, we have two teams and we need to find a third team because today on the two court, it just wasn't good enough,” Jadun said.
The singles matches started off with a loss from Pero who just couldn’t match up to his Penn State opponent, Eala, who won 6-1 in both sets.
This however, would be the Nittany Lions only point of the day. Baris dominated over Morgan for the second time, winning the first set 6-3 and the second set 6-2.
Baris said today’s win felt good and that he did what he needed to do.
“I just competed well,” Baris said. “I was in the right mindset and when adversity hit I was able to get through it.”
Sheldon was next with a win against PSU’s Byers 6-3, 6-3 in both sets.
Jadun said Sheldon stood out during today’s match as he was competing against a tough opponent. He was also impressed by Saye who came back to win 10 games in a row and secure the team victory.
Saye clinched his first victory for the team with his singles win against Penn State’s freshman Pranav Nemani 7-5, 6-0.
“It felt really good today, it was great to get out here and play some outdoor tennis,” Saye said. “Our first couple outdoor matches of the season at home for us it’s definitely different. But the courts are slow and I feel like that's great for our team. We all do pretty well out here. So it's good.”
Saye said he wishes that during today’s match he focused more and tried harder in the beginning because he let his opponent get into it a little more than he would’ve liked.
MSU Junior Luke Baylis and Lair’s match went unfinished after the team won. Baylis was up 6-3 against PSU’s Bossem in the first set, down 6-1 in the second and was behind 2-1 in the third.
Lair won his first set 6-3 against Penn State’s Simeunovic, he was down 6-2 in the second and 2-1 in the third.
With the win, the Spartans moved to 8-11 overall and 1-4 in the Big 10.
“Anytime you can get a Big 10 win as a team it really brings a lot of momentum to the program and I think looking at our schedule down the end of the road here, we can really make a push for the tournament and I think this is the first step to lead us in that direction,” Sheldon said.
The team will be back home on Friday, April 21 at 4 p.m. against Illinois on the MSU Outdoor Tennis Center in East Lansing.