The Creighton men’s tennis team looked impressive behind the clear glass of Hanscom Tennis Center Saturday night, opening their season with a 5-2 home victory over Western Illinois.
“I thought we did a good job coming out,” head coach Tom Lilly said. “We talked about trying to work through tough situations and handle adversity well. I thought we did that as a group pretty well and responded after things weren’t going our way.”
Creighton (1-0) came out swinging in their doubles matches to open play. Senior Sean Mathison and freshman Nick Thompson claimed the first victory in court No. 2 with an 8-3 victory over sophomore Brandon Meeker and junior Ben Yue of the Leathernecks.
WIU (2-5) struck back quickly with a dogfight victory in court No. 1, though, as the freshman duo Christoph Haertel and Bradley Holt took down seniors Billy Paluch and Ryan Norman 8-6.
In far away court No. 3, Creighton freshman Brandon Lee and sophomore Elliot Baker finished the round by rallying from behind to beat freshman Max Cederkall and sophomore Mitch Granger 8-6.
“In these matches, to get off to a strong start helps,” Lilly said. “To start with doubles is always good momentum leading into singles if you win that doubles point.”
Things heated up in singles play and both teams seemed to be playing with a bit of fire and enthusiasm.
In court No. 2, Holt took down Norman 6-4, 6-3 in a match that saw some chippiness between players, with body language telling much of the story.
Paluch looked remarkably quick in his win over Haertel, defeating the Leatherneck 6-1, 6-3 on court one.
Mathison played well on court No. 3, shutting down Yue 6-0 in the first set and finishing him off 6-3 in the second.
Freshman Quinn Dippel didn’t hesitate to make some noise as well on court six. In his first career match, the Jay shut out sophomore Chris Bunch 6-0, 6-0 for the victory.
Lee put up a good fight in court No. 4, but his efforts weren’t enough, as he was defeated by WIU’s Granger 6-2, 7-5.
In arguably the most exciting match of the night, the No. 5 spotted Baker lost his first set to Cederkall 6-4, but rallied back to force a tiebreaker, winning the second set 6-3. Baker brought down the hammer in extended time and won the match with a 10-3 victory.
“We’ve been working really hard all season,” Mathison said. “It’s always good to get the first home match out of the way and gain a victory. It feels really good, especially, starting our senior year off right.”
Creighton is set to go on the road next week and take on the Hawkeyes of the University of Iowa. The road opener will be played Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
“(We are) a team that keeps growing and getting better,” Lilly said. “I think we can do well. It’s a matter of how much hard work we’ll be able to put in.”