JAGUARS IMPRESS DESPITE 6-1 LOSS TO NO. 59 HOOSIERS
March 14, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
IUPUI SPORTS RELEASE
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - It was too much to ask for, but they didn't care. The Jaguars, without one of their key singles players, went on the road to play a top 60 program and didn't back down. IU came away with the 6-1 win, but IUPUI came away knowing they can truly compete with anyone.
Jacob Bradley and Thomas Gans have been IUPUI's most successful doubles pairing, playing each match together at No. 2 doubles. Today, the Jaguars had to improvise with Gans on the sidelines. Akshay Verma was thrust into No. 2 doubles and he and Bradley had to figure things out on the fly against Daniel Bednarczyk and Same Monette, the 44th best doubles team in the country. The 8-3 loss would say otherwise, but Bradley and Verma held their own, finding their stride as the match progressed. Bradley commented afterwards that a rematch would prove much closer now that he and Verma have gotten to play together.
Neither of the other two doubles pairs did any better and IU took a 1-0 lead in short order, but the opportunity for Alex Toliver to feel out IU's Sven Lalic at No. 1 doubles would prove valuable later in the match.
With Gans out of the lineup, Bradley played at No. 3 singles, Verma was bumped up to No 4. singles, Patrick O'Neill remained in the fifth spot and Manuel Laboy made just his third appearance of the season in singles at the sixth spot.
IU took advantage of their momentum in doubles and clinched the match with quick wins at Nos. 3-5 singles. Laboy proved more challenging to his opponent, staying on serve through most of the first set until his opponent broke for the lead and held serve to take the set. Laboy ultimately fell 6-3, 6-2.
With the overall result already determined and the Jaguars down 5-0, the real drama started. Both Jason Jaruvang and Toliver lost the opening set and it looked as if each might be overmatched. Both fought back though to force a third set. Since the IU had already clinched the overall, both played a 10-point super tiebreak.
Jaruvang's opponent, Sam Monette, has been ranked as high as 53rd, is ranked 61st currently, and just a few weeks ago defeated the 10th-ranked player in the country. Monette was serving for a second-set tiebreak down 6-5, but Jaruvang came up with the break to go to the third. The players exchanged breaks in the first few points and switched ends at three-all. On the seventh point, Jaruvang hit a big return off the second serve to force an error and take the mini break. He opened up the next point with a great combination play putting Monette off-balance and took the point after exchanging 24 shots.
Jaruvang's mindset: "Just outlast him. He was really tired in the third and so I knew if I just kept balls in he would go for it and miss."
After a service winner, Jaruvang took two more mini breaks, the latter on a double fault, for an 8-3 lead. He forced a forehand error on the next point for a 9-3 lead and six match points. Monette fended him off twice, but Jaruvang proved too much. He took the tiebreak 10-5 and the match.
Toliver's opponent, Sven Lalic, has been ranked as high as 80th in the country, and won the first set just like Monette. Just like Jaruvang though, Toliver forced a third set with a break of his opponent's serve. Toliver got off to a slower start in the tiebreak though, falling behind 1-4 and two mini breaks. He got one back on the next point, but a soul-crushing ace from Lalic snuffed any momentum gained. The ball drilled the net cord, popped a few feet into the air and landed inbounds just two feet past the net leaving Toliver no chance to get to it. Lalic pulled out to a 9-5 lead and seemed to have the match in hand when Toliver hit a winner to rival his opponent's ace. This time the ball hit the net and seemed to stop. It rolled cautiously along the length of the net nearly a foot, as if making up its mind which way to fall, before finally landing on Lalic's side. It would have been fitting for Toliver to take over and complete the comeback, but it wasn't meant to be and Lalic hit his third net-cord winner of the tiebreak to seal it.
With conference play just around the corner, the confidence gained from competing with a nationally-ranked school and nationally ranked players will be huge.
"Jason and Alex at one and two competed extremely well," said head coach Brandon Currie. "It just shows that we're capable of playing at that level with several guys."
The Jaguars have advanced to the finals of the conference tournament each of the last three seasons, but fallen short each time. The goal all season has been to prepare for conference play and ultimately make a run at the championship. Saturday they'll get their first test in conference against Western Illinois.
"It's the first conference match, so we've been planning for that all year," said Currie. "They're going to be a tough team. We lost to them last year so we definitely have to be ready to go."
There's no doubt that IUPUI has struggled this year. They're just 2-14 and have lost 11 straight matches. It hasn't affected their mentality or their goal though. When asked what the goal for the conference season was, Currie said simply, "To win it."
IU 6 – IUPUI 1
1. Jason Jaruvang (IUPUI) def. Sam Monette (IU) 3-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-5)
2. Sven Lalic (IU) def. Alex Toliver (IUPUI), 6- 1, 4-6, 1-0 (10-6)
3. Daniel Bednarczyk (IU) def. Jacob Bradley (IUPUI), 6-0, 6-1
4. Dimitrije Tasic (IU) def. Akshay Verma (IUPUI), 6-1, 6-1
5. Elliot Yee (IU) def. Patrick O'Neill (IUPUI), 6-0, 6-0
6. Stefan Lugonjic (IU) def. Manuel Laboy (IUPUI), 6-3, 6-2
1. Sven Lalic/Dimitrije Tasic (IU) vs. Alex Toliver/Patrick O'Neill (IUPUI) 7-2, unfinished
2. Daniel Bednarczyk/Sam Monette (IU) def. Jacob Bradley/Akshay Verma (IUPUI) 8-3
3. Chris Essick/Stefan Lugonjic (IU) def. Manuel Laboy/Jason Jaruvang (IUPUI) 8-3
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,3,1) Singles (3,4,5,6,1,2)