Men’s tennis takes down Xavier

Sophomore Nishant Dabas watches his teammates during a home match. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Cameron Niemi / The Jambar

After four straight games on the road, the Youngstown State University men’s tennis team returned to the YSU Indoor Tennis Center on Feb. 16 and 18 for two matches. 

In the Feb. 16 match, the Penguins hosted Northern Illinois University for the first time since Feb. 18, 2022. This season, NIU defeated YSU, 5-2.

YSU took the doubles point and jumped out to a 1-0 match lead. Sophomore Nishant Dabas and freshman Onder Balci played the No. 1 doubles and picked up a 7-6 win. 

Juniors Nathan Favier and Harry Fouzas played together for the first time this season and secured a 6-4 match victory in the No. 2 doubles match. 

As the team moved to singles matches, YSU took a 2-1 match lead as Balci won his sets 6-4, 6-3, in the No. 4 singles spot. The Penguins were defeated in their four remaining singles matches. 

The loss against NIU extended the team’s losing streak to five games. 

The Penguins continued their homestand as Xavier came to town Feb. 18. Youngstown State snapped its losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Musketeers. The last time the Penguins defeated the Musketeers was Feb. 21, 2021.

The Penguins secured two wins in doubles as they took the 1-0 advantage in the match. In the No. 1 doubles match, Dabas and Balci picked up a 6-2 victory. 

Favier and Fouzas won their match, 7-5, against Xavier’s No. 2 doubles team. Despite losing in No. 3 doubles, YSU had the advantage and went into the singles match with a lead. 

YSU had its first singles match win as Balci swept Xavier’s No. 4 singles 6-0, 6-0. This put the Penguins up 2-0 in the match. 

The Penguins fell to the Musketeers in No. 2 singles, which gave Xavier its first point, trailing 2-1. 

Fouzas extended the Penguins’ lead with a 6-3 and 6-1 win in the No. 5 singles matchup. Trailing 3-1, Xavier fought back with a win against YSU’s No. 1 singles and made the match a close contest, 3-2. 

The Penguins secured the victory against Xavier as junior William Rassat won his No. 3 singles match in three sets, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, which gave YSU its fourth point of the match.

Rassat said he felt confident securing the match win for the team and staying locked in after losing his first set. 

“I knew I was playing well also in the first set when I lost. I knew I was doing the right things,” Rassat said. “I just continued playing well, staying calm and hitting my shots and at the end it turned out to be okay.”

Junior William Rassat sends a shot back at a home match. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Dabas and Balci were named Under Armour Horizon League Tennis Doubles Team of the Week on Feb. 21. 

Dabas said being named doubles team of the week gave him and Balci confidence. 

“It means a lot to me and [Balci] because we helped the team a lot in doubles, and we helped them secure the doubles point at the No. 1 spot.”  Dabas said. “Being the doubles team of the week just gives us more and more confidence to go out there and win more matches for Youngstown.” 

With the win, YSU moves to 4-5 overall on the season and 4-1 at home. The Penguins have four more non-conference games remaining before Horizon League play begins in late March. 

Head coach Kody Duncan said the win against Xavier shows the team’s strength, but the break is much needed.

“[Xavier is] a very good team. We came out on top, and it’s really starting to show that we can handle adversity and we have the capabilities to do what we want to do this year,” Duncan said. “We need it. There’s a lot of guys that are tired and we need to regroup and be ready for these spring break matches.” 

Head coach Kody Duncan is 4-1 at home this season. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Youngstown State will have two weeks off before starting another three-game road trip in Tennessee. YSU will face off against Lipscomb University at 2 p.m. on March 6.