Valparaiso’s difficult season-opening schedule continued on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders dropped a 7-0 decision to 62nd-ranked Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, Mich.
The Broncos won all three singles matches to open the day, although they needed a tie-break at the second spot. Valpo’s Alex Lau (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson Senior H.S.) and Tom Litscher (Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial H.S.) dropped a tough-fought 8-7 (6) decision to Michael Calderone and Kazuya Komada in that position. Western Michigan’s Alex Birchmeier and Bryan Norville, the 9th-ranked doubles team in the nation topped Mike Shideler (Valparaiso, Ind./Munster H.S.) and Mike Wagner (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer H.S.) 8-1 at one doubles while Kevin Hayward and Casey Cullen downed Dan Brunette (Carmel, Ind./Lutheran H.S. of Indianapolis) and Kyle Stump (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth H.S.) 8-0 at the third spot.
In singles, Western Michigan (8-1) won all six matches in straight sets. Hayward, ranked 30th in the country in singles, downed Shideler 6-0, 6-0 at the top of the order while Lau had a battle with Norville before falling 6-2, 6-4 at the second spot. Birchmeier defeated Wagner 6-1, 6-1 at third singles while Alejandro Staub won by the same score against Brunette at number five. Komada was a 6-1, 6-0 winner at fourth singles while Cullen defeated Stump 6-2, 6-1 at the bottom of the order.
“Alex Lau really stepped up and played some good matches in both singles and doubles,” head coach Jim Daugherty said afterwards. “The effort was very, very good by our team, but Western Michigan just had an answer for everything we tried.”
Valparaiso (0-5) was scheduled to return to the courts next Saturday against Northern Illinois, but the match has been postponed due to the tragedy on the Huskies’ campus. The Crusaders will now open Horizon League play in Indianapolis, Ind. on February 29 with a 2 p.m. CST match against Butler.