Big goals from last weekend turned into question marks, as the Spartans had a rude awakening on Saturday against in-state rival, Western Michigan.
“It was a perfect storm of events that just didn’t go our way,” explained senior tennis player Harry Jadun. “They’re a tough team and those guys came to play.”
The match against Western Michigan had all of the ingredients for a win. The Spartans started off by winning its doubles point and had early momentum, but junior John Patrick Mullane endured soreness in his shoulder during the day. He still played his full doubles match with a sore shoulder and also his singles match, but ended up losing 6-3, 6-3. Western Michigan continued its momentum by winning four of six singles matches to clinch a 4-3 win over the Spartans.
The Broncos came ready to play over the weekend and MSU freshman tennis player Jasper Koenen took the loss to heart.
“They came out very strong,” Koenen said. “We came out hungry in doubles and we were thinking we need three points, let’s go home, let’s be done. It was heartbreaking and we’re learning so much from it and rebounding really strong.
With the win over the Spartans on Saturday, Western Michigan moved up to No. 68 in the rankings with the win. It was also its first win over a nationally-ranked team for the Broncos since 2013, when they beat the Spartans once again in upsetting fashion.
Looking ahead to this weekend, Michigan State gets a chance of redemption against No. 50 Dartmouth. The Big Green have beaten three top ten teams this year, but also lost both of its Big Ten matches against Minnesota and Indiana, who are both ranked in the top 40.
The Spartans are also 2-0 all-time against Dartmouth and have a good home record on the year. However, there will be some other factors hurting the Spartans this weekend.
It’s the dog days of the season, late in the non-conference season and almost Big Ten season. It’s cold outside so we’re not going to be as energetic as we first came in,” Jadun said. “We’re handling it well but we’re having some tough situations with Mac and JP. Down to six guys practicing right now and no room for error.”
John Patrick “JP” Mullane is getting a second opinion on his shoulder this week, according to head coach Gene Orlando. If he does not play, everyone will have to move up a spot in the lineup. However, the lineup will be thin because Doug Zade is day-to-day and Mac Roy will be held out of both matches because of a team-related issue. Coach Orlando did not comment on details specifically regarding Roy’s absence. Overall, the starting lineup is not set right now.
“We need to battle like we’ve been battling,” Jadun proclaimed. “We’re battling on injuries and we have to stay the course and just do what Coach O and what Damion are telling us.”
“They tell us we have to stay positive. It’s tough when you lose to a team like Western MIchigan.”
If the Spartans lose to Dartmouth, they still have one more chance to get a win on the weekend against Youngstown State at 6 p.m. apart of a Saturday doubleheader. The Spartans are also 2-0 all-time against Youngstown.
“The thing about our schedule is that we have so many opportunities,” Jadun said. “We can’t dwell on the past and have to keep going.”
“We have to come out with same firepower when we played Memphis,” added Koenen. “We’re at home, we’re going to have a great crowd, it’s a Saturday matchup for the girls team. So there will be great energy.”
Alex Scharg is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Scott Wasserman