Three sets to love

Onder Balci won his singles match in two sets versus Georgetown. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Dylan Lux

Kody Duncan was named head coach of the Youngstown State University men’s tennis team Oct. 16, 2023. In the team’s three matches so far this season, the first-year coach is 3-0 — a perfect start.

Through three straight matches at the YSU Indoor Tennis Center, the team has accumulated wins against Binghamton University, Butler University and Georgetown University.

Duncan was the men’s and women’s tennis head coach at Division II Edinboro University for seven years before moving to Youngstown State. He led the Fighting Scots to a 24-3 record in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference matches.

YSU’s opening match of the season came Jan. 20 against Binghamton with a clean sweep against the Bearcats. 

The team won the doubles point with victories from the team of freshman Onder Balci and sophomore Nishant Dabas, 6-4,  and the duo of junior Harry Fouzas and senior David Alvarez Moreno, 6-4.

Harry Fouzas celebrates a won point against Georgetown. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Out of the six singles matches, four Penguins won in straight sets. Juniors Nathan Favier and William Rassat, Dabas and Fouzas were victorious in two sets. Junior Clement Mainguy and Balci took their matchups to a third set where they both pulled out victories.

Nathan Favier prepares for a serve at home. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Day Two saw the Bulldogs run into town as YSU faced Butler on Jan. 26. Another win for the Penguins ensued, 4-1. 

After going down early from losing the doubles point, Youngstown State won four singles matches. In order of finish: Fouzas, Balci, Favier and Dabas all picked up wins to help lead YSU to a 2-0 start this season. Mainguy and Rassat’s matches were called early and remained unfinished.

Looking to start the year off with three straight wins, the ‘Guins next matchup was against the Georgetown Hoyas on Jan. 28.

The duos of Favier and Rassat alongside Alvarez Moreno and Fouzas took home the doubles point in a crucial matchup.

Balci and Alvarez Moreno started off with singles wins for the ‘Guins, taking each of their matches in two sets.

Favier fell to Georgetown junior Jake Fellows in two sets, making the overall score 3-1.

With just one more win needed to clinch the matchup, Dabas finished his match in a third set, 6-2, to secure a third victory in a row for YSU.

Fouzas’s match also ended up in a third set, which was first to ten points. Fouzas swept his opponent, 10-0, helping lead the Penguins to a 5-2 victory.

Favier stated he is excited about the start of a win streak and credits the victories to the team’s effort throughout the offseason.

“It’s an awesome start for us,” Favier stated. “It is the result of hard work during the fall and beginning of the spring, and it’s great to see that it is paying off, even if it is only the beginning.”

Looking to extend the win streak, Youngstown State will travel to Omaha, Nebraska for matchups against Creighton University and the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Favier talked about the key to victory on the road and how the team keeps its energy in an opposing stadium.

“The key for us this weekend is to keep going with the high energy and the momentum we got, but it is also to keep our feet on the ground and understand that nothing will be given to us and we have to go get it again,” Favier stated.

Matchday against the Creighton Blue Jays begins at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, and the Penguins will face the Mavericks of Omaha at 12:30 p.m on Feb. 3.