The calendar may say it’s a new year, but the narrative was a familiar one for the Valparaiso University men’s tennis team as the Crusaders opened the season on Saturday afternoon. The defending Horizon League champions went on the road and dispatched Toledo 7-0 to start the campaign on a winning note.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders did something they hope will become a season-long trend: They started strong by capturing the doubles point.
- The defending ITA Indoor National runner-up doubles duo of Jeffrey Schorsch (Perrysburg, Ohio / Perrysburg) and Charlie Emhardt (Carmel, Ind. / Carmel) picked up right where it left off with a 6-4 win over senior Stjepan Sisko and freshman Thawin Suksathaporn at No. 1 doubles.
- That cemented the doubles point as Dave Bacalla (Skokie, Ill. / Niles North) and Chad Kissell (Latrobe, Pa. / Greater Latrobe) had teamed up to down Omar Espinosa and Stephen Miller 5-2 at No. 2.
- No. 3 doubles wasn’t completed once the other results wrapped up the doubles point, but Kyle Dunn (Fond du Lac, Wis. / Fond du Lac) and Garrett Gardner (Poland, Ohio / Poland) were in good shape, leading Vince Anzalone and Juan Carranza 5-2.
- Schorsch, Kissell and Emhardt all won their singles matches in straight sets. Schorsch’s first set went to a tiebreaker, but he got the better of Sisko 7-6 (7-0), 6-3.
- The match was more competitive than the 7-0 final would indicate, as three singles matches took three sets to the complete.
- Dunn eked out an exciting 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 win over Reid Teatsorth at No. 4 singles.
- Bacalla won his match in come-from-behind fashion, dropping the first set 6-2 before prevailing 6-2, 6-1 to beat Omar Espinosa.
- Freshman Brandon Ancona (Belvidere, Ill. / Rockford Christian) also dug himself out of a one-set hole, dropping the opener 6-4 before recording 6-1, 6-2 wins against Suksathaporn.
Inside the Match
- The Crusaders beat Toledo in more dominant fashion than they did so a year ago, after prevailing 5-2 in the 2016 matchup.
- Schorsch’s straight-sets win came against reigning Mid-American Conference Player of the Year Stjepan Sisko, who went 25-5 a year ago. Schorsch was also responsible for one of Sisko’s losses last season.
- The No. 1 doubles win allowed Schorsch and Emhardt to avenge a loss to Esponisa and Sisko last year.
- The win also held significance for Dunn, who tasted victory against the Rockets after falling to a Toledo player both in the fall and last spring.
- The Crusaders were playing in their first match of the spring, while the Rockets see their record drop to 0-3 with the defeat.
The Crusaders will face a tough test a week from now as they head to Madison, Wis. to face off with Big Ten foe Wisconsin on Saturday, Jan. 28. The first serve is slated for noon Central Time.