Men's Tennis Ends Regular Season with Dramatic 4-3 win at Ball State

GO HUSKIES Jurica Grubisic
Jurica Grubisic

April 18, 2009

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MUNCIE, Ind. - The Northern Illinois men's tennis team secured at least a tie for second-place in the final regular-season Mid-American Conference standings with a 4-3 upset over host Ball State on Senior Day at the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center Saturday afternoon.

"I can't say enough about the effort of our guys today," said NIU head coach Pawel Gajdzik. "We beat an extremely talented team on their Senior Day, and did it with a ton of determination. We were trailing 3-0 in the match, but our spirit never wavered, and you could tell by our players' demeanor that they were not going to lose this match, even when things weren't looking good.

"After we lost to Toledo a couple of weeks back, we had a talk with the team, and revisited our goals from the beginning of the season. We talked about how this season was going to represent a lot of `firsts' for our program and this win certainly supports those goals."

"Ball State is a team that has been in contention for the championship in this conference year-in and year-out. Our goal all along was to be playing our best tennis at the end of the year, and I think we are doing that. We're excited for next week's MAC Tournament, and our guys now believe and realize they have a chance to get their hands on a trophy."

The Cardinals secured the pivotal doubles point with regulation pro-set wins at both the No. 1 and No. 3 positions. Ball State's top tandem of Jose Perdomo and Zane Smith defeated the Huskies' Pawel Poziomski and Jimmy Chu in an 8-4 decision, and NIU's Javier Bernabe and Ross VanderPloeg fell by an 8-3 count at No. 3.

The Huskies' No. 2 doubles tandem of Jurica Grubisic and Shaun Stewart posted a shortened 8-7 (7-5), tiebreaker win over Ball State's Eduardo Pavia and Andres Monroy after the outcome of the doubles portion of the match had already been decided. The doubles order of finish went 3, 1 and 2.

Trailing 1-0 heading into singles play, the Huskies were forced to win at least four-of-six singles matches to record the come-from-behind team win. NIU responded by picking up victories at the No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 and No. 6 positions.

At the top singles position, Poziomski outlasted Perdomo, 4-6, 7-6, 6-1. At No. 2, Grubisic captured a thrilling 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6) win over Pavia. After winning the first set, Grubisic was leading 3-0 in the second frame, before losing six-consecutive games to force a decisive third set. Grubisic won the third frame with an 8-6 win in the tiebreaker after fighting off match point.

Bernabe defeated Monroy, the brother of NIU's Alfonso Monroy, in a 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 decision at No. 4, followed by a three-set (6-2, 4-6, 6-3) win by VanderPloeg at the sixth singles flight. Bernabe's win was dramatic, after dropping the first set and falling down by a break in the third frame at 5-3. He answered by winning four-consecutive single games to post the come-from-behind win.

Stewart and Chu both fell in straight-set decisions to secure Ball State's two singles wins. The final order of finish in singles went 3, 5, 6, 1, 4 and 2.

NIU's seed in next week's MAC Tournament at Buffalo, N.Y., will be decided following Sunday's match between host and league leader Western Michigan, against second-place Toledo.



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