The Valpo men’s tennis team extended their winning streak to 15 matches this past weekend on the road. The Crusaders traveled to Youngstown State then Cleveland State and took both matches 7-0 with the leadership of their seniors.
“We knew Youngstown State was a much improved team this year going into the match,” coach Jim Daugherty said. “We had to go into the matches strong and not take anything for granted.”
The added challenge against Youngstown State was that the Penguins had added two new players mid-season and the Crusaders had little to no scouting report on them. Valpo did the best they could to prepare for them before the match, but they had to improvise on the court. Senior Charlie Emhardt had to face one of the new players.
“(The Youngstown player) was a really good player and he was comfortable playing on his home court,” Emhardt said. “He brought a lot of talent to the table...If that had happened to me a few years ago that would’ve discouraged me, but from the experience we’ve had dealing with different types of players and through the adversity you realize that it’s just part of the game.
Daugherty noted the improvement that Emhardt has shown since his freshman year. Emhardt came in from Carmel High School as a strong doubles player but he has developed his singles game over his career at Valpo and was able to handle challenges like facing a player that no one on the team has faced.
The next day Valpo traveled to Cleveland State where the travel and back-to-back matches didn’t seem to affect Valpo’s performance on the court.
“It’s a rough part of the season when you have these back-to-back matches on Saturday/Sunday or Friday/Saturday,” Emhardt said. “We worked hard (over the winter) on conditioning. We all know that we have the potential to be the best, and we need to be in the best shape that we can be.”
Valpo took care of business against Cleveland State shutting them out 7-0 and look forward to playing three matches next weekend against University of Alabama - Birmingham, Middle Tennessee State, and South Alabama. All three matches will be held in Murfreesboro, Tenn. If the recent success holds up for Valpo, there’s a possibility for the Crusaders to be nationally ranked. The Crusaders made the NCAA Tournament last year and they are hoping to go farther than that this year.