Penguins go 1-all in conference opener

Junior Harry Fouzas celebrates after a won point at home. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Cameron Niemi / The Jambar

After splitting two straight matches on the road in Tennessee, the Youngstown State University men’s tennis team returned home for a non-conference match before the start of Horizon League conference play.

Duquesne University traveled to the YSU Indoor Tennis Center on March 16 for a three-game homestand against the Penguins. Youngstown State defeated the Dukes, 5-2, in their matches.

This marked the 20th meeting between the universities and Youngstown’s fourth straight win over the Dukes. YSU picked up its sixth win of the season.

Conference play began March 22 as YSU hosted Cleveland State University. The Penguins were defeated by the Vikings, 5-2.

Cleveland State came into the matchup after facing off against teams such as Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame and No. 25 Baylor University.

In the matchup against YSU, the Vikings took the doubles point with two 6-3 match victories over the Penguins.

CSU took match wins in No. 1, 2, 3 and 6 singles in its victory over Youngstown State.

Freshman Onder Balci took a 6-3, 6-0 match win in No. 4 singles. Junior Harry Fouzas claimed a 6-3, 6-4 win in No. 5 singles, securing the team’s only points in the match.

Fouzas said the team had a chance to win it, but it lost some close sets.

“We were really close. 5-2 I feel like is not the perfect score for us because we are closer than what it looks,” Fouzas said. “I believe next time — if we are mentally stronger and prepare for this match, and now that we know with their new guys and being horizon league opponents — we will be even more ready.”

Despite the team’s loss to start conference play, the Penguins bounced back March 23 against Chicago State University with a 6-1 victory.

Chicago State came into the match with a 3-14 overall record and 0-2 in the Horizon League.

Youngstown State took a 1-0 lead as it swept the doubles point. In No. 1 doubles, sophomore Nishant Dabas and Balci picked up a 6-4 match win.

Sophomore Nishant Dabas sends a ball back at an opponent. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Senior David Alvarez Moreno and junior Nathan Favier had a 6-1 match win in No. 3 doubles.

The Penguins went to the singles play and won five of the six matches. Chicago State won the first singles.

In No. 2 singles, Dabas won 6-3, 6-2. Senior William Rassat secured a 6-2, 6-4 victory in No. 3 singles match.

Balci lost his first set, 6-4, but won the second, 6-4, to force a third set. Balci picked up the match victory, 6-1, in the final set.

Freshman Onder Balci prepares for an set at home. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Alvarez Moreno dropped his first set, 6-3, but responded with a 6-1, 6-2 set win in No. 5 singles.

Senior Asier Pena Ibanez won, 6-4, 6-3 in No. 6 singles to round out the Penguins victory.

Favier said conference play is important to achieve the team’s goals with a few matches left on the schedule.

“These matches are tricky,” Favier said. “It’s nice to have the experience of the last two years to know how to get ready and also to get the boys ready as well,” Favier said. “From now on it’s [the goal] to win every single game and get to the NCAA [tournament].”

Rassat and Favier watch a teammate in a home match. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Youngstown State improved to 7-7 on the season and 1-1 in the conference. The team has seven matches remaining, six of which are Horizon League matches.

The Penguins will play two straight games on the road against Horizon League opponents.

The first match is set for 12 p.m. on March 29 against Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The team will round out its two-game road stint at 1 p.m. on March 30 against Northern Kentucky University.

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