Indiana men’s tennis’ matchup against Boise State University on Feb. 4 didn’t spare any drama. Much of the match was filled with emotional outbursts over questions of officiating and sportsmanship, whether that be the coaches or the players. However, the Hoosiers prevailed through the dramatics and sealed a 4-1 victory, capping off four matches in five days. The Hoosiers undefeated week jolts their record to 6-2.
The emotion persisted from the first serve to the last with celebrations from everyone involved after almost every point. Every point in the match was crucial and hard-fought, starting with the nail-biting finish in doubles. After a 1-1 split following a 6-4 loss from seniors Ilya Tiraspolsky and Michael Andre, and a 6-4 win from freshman Facundo Yunis and sophomore Luc Boulier, the point came down to the pairing of sophomore Sam Landau and grad senior Carson Haskins. They didn’t disappoint the home crowd. After being down 6-5 in the set, the duo clawed back to even at 6-6, and ran away with the point after a 7-4 win in the tiebreak.
The 3-1 win in the singles matches doesn’t tell the whole story, though. All but two of the matches went to three sets, with two out of the three Hoosier points needing a bounce back win in the third set after dropping the second. The three Hoosier wins came from the familiar faces of Landau, Andre and freshman Nikola Kolyachev — the three players leading the team in wins. Landau, the usual court one player, was moved down to court two for Yunis. Landau won 6-1 in the third set after letting a lead slip away in the second while Yunis lost in two sets on court one to Boise State senior Sam Sippel, who is ranked 40th in the country.
“Facu’s such a great player, and he’s got a lot of experience at the highest level, so we felt like it was a good opportunity to come out here and see what he’s got,” Indiana head coach Jeremy Wurtzman said. “I think we gotta be willing to move guys around spots because we got a lot of good players that can play a lot of different spots in the lineup.”
The matchup between Landau and sophomore Jip Van Assendfelt on court two was packed with drama and tense exchanges from both sides, causing the home crowd to join the action. Both players and coaches had frequent displeasures with the officiating, with Landau calling for the judge to be replaced. Wurtzman was also involved in chatter with the Broncos’ coaches following questions of sportsmanship after Van Assendfelt was overruled multiple times on serve calls and hit the ball up to the roof in anger, resulting in a violation.
“These matches often come down to one or two points… there’s a lot that can go one way or another,” Wurtzman said. “Sometimes I get a little emotional, but it’s all passion. I think the best is when I’m more calm and I can calm down the guys because there’s so many ups and downs.”
Kolyachev discussed the nature of the match, and how the Hoosiers were able to overcome Boise State’s distractions.
“We were ready, they told us the other team was going to come off loud and have energy, so we were prepared for everything that happened,” Kolyachev said. “We did what we had to, we had to bring the energy up ourselves, and we managed to do that and that’s why we won.”
Kolyachev was the star of the show, scoring the last point needed for a Hoosier victory. He was greeted by a dogpile from the rest of the team in celebration. The win continues Kolyachev’s hot start to his young career, putting him at 6-1.
“The reason I came here was because I wanted to improve as a player, so gaining some wins in the beginning is super nice, and I just want to keep going,” Kolyachev said.
The Hoosiers will look to keep the good times rolling at home with a three-game weekend slate starting at 5 p.m. Friday against Drake University.
Follow reporter Matt Rudella (@mattrudellaIDS) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s tennis season.
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