In its first outdoor match of the season, the Michigan State men’s tennis team was handed a 7-0 loss against Ohio State in East Lansing. The match started off with the Buckeyes easily taking the doubles point in two back-to-back wins.
MSU senior Kazuki Matsuno and freshman David Saye finished first with a 6-1 loss to OSU senior Cannon Kingsley and junior JJ Tracy, followed by a 6-1 loss from freshman Ozan Baris and fifth-year Anthony Pero against OSU redshirt seniors Andrew Lutschaunig and James Trotter.
Moving onto the singles matches, the Spartans’ Portnoy was unable to find his rhythm with a 6-1, 6-0 loss against Trotter.
OSU’s Tracy seemed to have the upper hand on Pero who just couldn’t get those crucial points that were needed.
With one more win the Ohio State Buckeyes would take it all.
After fighting hard Matsuno would fall next to OSU’s Cash 6-1, 6-2 after he couldn’t turn his effort into wins.
MSU’s junior Luke Baylis, Saye and Baris continued playing on, despite the less than stellar start for the team.
Head men's tennis coach Harry Jadun said they have started to have all of the matches played through to put results on the board.
“I think that's really big for the rankings,” Jadun said. “The individual tournaments a big deal. Ozan’s obviously in contention for it and yeah just really trying to give our guys opportunities to pick up wins.”
Baylis came close in his first set 6-3 but couldn't quite seal the deal in his second set, losing 6-2.
Saye wouldn’t let OSU freshman Alexander Bernard get away with an easy win, losing 7-5 in the first set and 6-2 in his second.
It all came down to Baris who pushed his opponent, Boulais hard with a 7-5 loss in the first set. Baris also won the only set of the day with a 6-2 win during the second.
It seemed as though Baris would walk away with the only win of the day as the game came down to a 10-point tiebreaker.
Coming up 9-8 Baris was close but ultimately couldn’t get the result he wanted, making some crucial misses into the net and losing 11-9, and giving his opponent that final game.
Something Baris wishes he did better in that game was win some of those match points.
“There was a lot of those deuce points, really close points,” Baris said. “And I felt like in the first set, they went his way. The second set I was able to get them and then the third set I just didn’t take them.”
Jadun felt like Baris particularly stood out during today’s match.
“I think, being a freshman taking on a fourth year senior ... from Ohio State is one of the best players in the nation – and I think Ozan dominated a good bit of that match,” Jadun said. “Just a couple of loose misses at the end. But at the end of the day, we're worried about his four year development. He's fine. He's gonna be really, really good.”
Even with the loss, Jadun was really excited to see the younger players on the team – Baylis, Saye and Baris – really “sinking their teeth” into their matches, playing tough and building towards the future.
Doubles partners Baris and sophomore Max Sheldon currently rank number six in the country in the ITA Rankings, the highest in program history. Baris is ranked 40th nationally and the team is ranked 67th.
Baris said he’s not worried about the rankings as they are going to go up and down. He’s just going to do his thing and focus on that.
Jadun said MSU rested a few of their players due to injuries and wanting to manage their workload throughout the season. He wanted to ensure his players were ready for Penn State on Sunday, because that’s a big match for the team.
Something Jadun is going to have the team work on ahead of Sunday’s match is elevating their level against an opponent like Ohio State while sustaining that same momentum through the match.
As for what he’s expecting from the noon match against Penn State on Sunday at the MSU Outdoor Tennis Center, Jadun said there’s going to be some competition.
“I'm expecting them to be hungry,” Jadun said. “I'm expecting them to be chippy … everybody wants to win. So we have to come out and just play tough. I don't know that we necessarily have to play our best tennis but we got to play some tough tennis to win it.”
Baris plans on getting in a good practice tomorrow, getting some good sleep and some good food ahead of the match on Sunday.
His food of choice? The crouching tiger sushi roll from Maru Sushi and Grill.