With the end of the season approaching, the Horizon League Tournament for men’s tennis is only two weeks away, but the Crusaders are not getting too far ahead of themselves.
“I’m looking for (the team) to stay focussed on the match ahead (against Detroit Mercy),” coach Jim Daugherty said. “There’s been a lot of thoughts of Conference Tournament and NCAA Tournament possibilities, but what we have to do is to keep our focus on the practices for this upcoming match.”
Even though Valpo is currently alone at the top of the Horizon League standings, a loss to Detroit could result in a tie for first place, adding pressure to the Horizon League Tournament.
“We’re doing the things we’ve been doing all year long (to prepare for the match against Detroit),” Daugherty said. “Detroit only has one loss this year, a (Crusader) loss this year will create a tie, so a loss to them will give (Detroit) plenty of motivation.”
“We’re doing our best to come together as a unit,” senior Charlie Emhardt said. “We definitely have big goals for the Horizon League Tournament and hopefully NCAA Tournament after that, so we’re preparing for every situation...This is probably the toughest part of the season, so it’s important for us to be sleeping well, eating and drinking well, and working hard on the court.”
Mental preparation will play a huge role if the team wants to beat Detroit to stay on top of conference standings.
“Horizon League Tournament weekend is the most important weekend of the year,” senior Kyle Dunn said. “We’re making sure that we’re treating our bodies right, getting treatment if needed and trying to stay fresh. Same emotionally, we need to be sure that we’re confident going in, knowing that we deserved the (No. 1) seed and just playing to the best of our abilities.”
The upcoming match against Detroit is also Senior Day as it will be the last regular season home match for the Class of 2017.
“It’ll be kind of sad that it’ll be our last match here and one of our last matches as a college athlete,” Dunn said, adding that it will be “bittersweet.”
“It seems like a few weeks ago we were here for FOCUS, and we were walking around campus (for the first time),” Emhardt said. “We’ve had quite a run here, and it’s been a lot of fun doing this with them so it’ll be exciting to celebrate one last home match with them.”
The Senior Day match against Detroit will be Sunday, April 23 at 1 p.m. at the Valpo Tennis Courts and the Horizon League Tournament will be played April 28-30 in Ann Arbor, Mich.