The Hillsdale College men’s tennis team toppled Indiana Tech 7 – 2 on Tuesday at the Mary Jane Delp Courts.
Sophomore Charlie Adams won at No. 1 singles 6 – 4, 6 – 3, and his opponent retired in the third set because of an apparent injury. Sophomore Michael Szabo won at No. 2 singles 7 – 6, 8 – 6, 6 – 3.
Freshman Gabe Katz claimed a No. 4 singles victory 6 – 3, 6 – 1 in his first home collegiate match. Sophomore Julien Clouette won No. 5 singles 6 – 3, 3 – 6, 3 – 1. Junior Jerry Hewitt claimed the last singles victory 6 – 4, 3 – 6, 3 – 1. Hewitt’s opponent retired due to cramps in the third set.
Junior Justin Hyman teamed with Adams to shut out No. 1 doubles 8 – 0. Senior team captain Dugan Delp and junior John Ciraci won No. 2 doubles 7 – 6, 8 – 6, 6 – 3. Clouette and Szabo were edged out of No. 3 doubles 8 – 9, 4 – 7.
Ciraci and Hyman only played doubles matches because of past injuries — a hurt shoulder and ankle, respectively.
Head coach Keith Turner said his team played well and showed their depth, even with sick and injured players.
“Michael Szabo had a great win,” Turner said. “He was cramping during the first set and was sick, but he was able to gut it out to clinch the match.”
Delp said their 10-man roster has given injured players a rest, but stressed the importance of having the whole team for the spring season — which hurt the Chargers in matches last year.
“We have almost never had our full team at practice this year,” Delp said. “We need to get healthy, get in shape, and hit the weight room so we can be competitive right off the bat and not have to worry about injuries or missing players.”
Delp said practicing with a full roster will bring the team’s skill to a new level — exactly what they need for an NCAA bid.
“But assuming everyone gets better, it will be awesome for our team because it will increase competition in practice, and everyone will have to compete at a higher level if they want in the lineup, which just makes us better,” Delp said.
Katz said the team had been focusing on doubles play — and it payed off.
“All three doubles teams played well,” Katz said. “We won two of them, which put us in a position to win.”
Katz said the team starts lifting Thursday, and will practice daily and play challenge matches to determine the lineup for February.
Turner said he plans to use the offseason to heal and prepare for an intense spring schedule.
“First of all, we need to get everyone healthy,” Turner said. “Once we get back on schedule, we will push to work on fitness in November, and come January, we will be ready to go — we’ll be a nasty ranked team.”
The Chargers will play seven nonconference matches before they begin G‑MAC competition to chase their goal of an NCAA bid.
“We will play teams like Ferris, Wayne State, and other strong GLIAC teams to prepare us for Walsh and Findlay,” Turner said.
Since Hillsdale switched to a smaller division, they will not automatically get an NCAA bid, but will have to compete for an at-large bid.
“Seven to eight teams make the NCAA’s,” Turner said. “We are ranked No. 10 in the region, so we will have to move up a few spots. Our schedule this spring will give us a number of opportunities to knock off a few teams.”
Katz said t the nonconference matches will hone lineups for G‑MAC play and NCAA competition.
“Last year Hillsdale beat a couple of teams who made NCAA’s that were ranked 7th, 8th — like Northwood, and Wayne State,” Katz said. “We’re able to compete with teams who’re ranked just below us — we will just have to win some tough matches.”
The Chargers will resume play against Daemen College at home on February 3.