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MSU tennis' Ozan Baris remains determined after historic season comes to an end

May 29, 2024
<p>Sophomore Ozan Baris has become the most decorated player in MSU men's tennis history.</p>

Sophomore Ozan Baris has become the most decorated player in MSU men's tennis history.

Ozan Baris, a sophomore on Michigan State's men's tennis team, spent this past season making history with numerous accolades. His storied campaign came to an end on May 24, when the All-American faced defeat in the semifinal of the NCAA Singles Championship.

Baris lost the tight, back-and-forth match against Filip Planinsek of The University of Alabama. Baris won the first set of the day 7-5 and lost the second set by the same score. When the Okemos native is behind in professional tournaments, he has faith in his ability to come back. In the NCAA tournament, having to come back while down in matches can be fatiguing. The NCAA style proved to be more of a challenge as the Division I star lost his final set of the day by a hair, 7-6.

"I honestly saw myself winning it," Baris said at a press conference Wednesday. "It's something that I've (en)visioned for weeks leading up."

Baris said the match took a shot at his confidence, and there was a lot of pain involved. However, the most decorated player in program history got right back to work, knowing that the results would come.

"I haven't felt like this before, the amount of anger, sadness, shock." Baris said. "I've realized that confidence is not just in the results themselves, but it's in the work that I'm doing."

Baris' mental game with himself is important, he said. When he approaches the court for a match, his goal is to be on the court for the least amount of time possible, helping him play aggressively.

"If he can continue to keep that mindset and bring that, he’s gonna have a long and successful career in sports," MSU men’s tennis Head Coach Harry Jadun said.

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Baris has already begun competing at the professional level, scoring his first professional point at the age of 18. It's been questioned whether or not he plans to stay at MSU to finish out his college career. Jadun said he supports Baris' potential departure.

"Obviously, we're not gonna hold a guy back who's ready for the professional tour," Jadun said.

However, Baris believes there's unfinished business for him and his teammates at MSU. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year said he has plans to build up Michigan State's program and isn't satisfied with his collegiate career yet.

"I think it was a great year, but there's a lot left on the table," Baris said. "I want to stay as long as I can ... I wanted to do something here; I wanted to create a culture and just have a program that is the best moving forward. If I can do that, then I’m satisfied with what I've done here."

Among various achievements from this past season, Baris was the first MSU men's tennis player to earn Big Ten Player of the Year honors and amass 20 wins in a season. 2023-2024 also marked the first time MSU's program was ranked in the top 25 of the ITA College Tennis Rankings. Baris is making history at MSU and is leaving his mark for those to enter the program after him.

"There's a lot of players that go to college, but when you say you've helped develop one of the best players in college tennis, it kinda gives those future recruits a template that they feel like they can follow," Jadun said.

This coming offseason, Baris doesn't have any plans to slow down his pursuit of winning championships.

"My plans for the summer are to just play the pro tournaments," Baris said. "I don't want to get anything other than first."

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