The men’s tennis team opened its 2012 spring season facing what could be some of the toughest competition it will see this year.
The result was not what the Bulldogs hoped for, as they dropped a 7-0 decision to No. 3 Ohio State last Wednesday.
“As a team, going up against someone like Ohio State, we didn’t go in with the attitude of having to win,” senior Zach Ervin said. “We had the mindset of playing hard, and we will use it as a measuring stick for the rest of the season.”
Despite the loss, the team took away positives from the match that could help them throughout the rest of the season.
Each singles player won at least two games in their respective matches, while every Butler doubles pair won at least one game.
“We competed way beyond expectation,” freshman Pulok Bhattacharya said. “I have a pretty good feeling about this year.”
The Bulldogs were also able to identify some aspects of their play that need improvement.
“[The match] helped me know what specific shots I need to work on,” freshman Austin Woldmoe said. “It also showed us the type of level we need to be at, and everyone needs to up their level.”
According to coach Jason Suscha, one of the glaring aspects of Butler’s play that the team needs to work on is holding its serves and improving its serve percentage.
“We didn’t compete as well as we should have,” Suscha said. “Not that it would have changed the score, but we didn’t give ourselves a chance.”
The road does not get much easier for the Bulldogs, as they face top competition throughout their spring season, including No. 29 Indiana, Purdue, Harvard, Wisconsin and Drake.
“These [matches] actually pump me up a bit, saying I’ve been given such a big challenge, why not take it?” Bhattacharya said. “We are not scared of playing any of them. We expect to win.”
Butler will also have to deal with Horizon League powers Green Bay and reigning league champion Cleveland State.
“It’s definitely a tough schedule, and we’re on the road for 17 or 18 [matches],” Ervin said.
The road-heavy schedule will challenge a young Bulldog team that has six freshmen and only two seniors on its roster.
That does not mean, however, that the team lacks big goals for the season.
“We expect to compete and win the Horizon League in both the season and in the tournament,” Ervin said. “Our ultimate goal is to reach the NCAA tournament, and I think all of our individual and team goals revolve around that.”
Suscha said he agrees that even though the Bulldogs are a young team, they have the talent to win a conference championship.
The Bulldogs will begin a four-match road trip with contests against Northern Illinois on Thursday and Wisconsin on Friday.