While Purdue students prepare for their final exams, the Purdue men’s tennis team will be tested at the Big Ten men’s tennis tournament this weekend.
The nationally ranked No. 35 Boilers (19-11, 7-4) enter the tournament at the six seed after tying for No. 4 in the Big Ten with Northwestern (19-9, 7-4) and Wisconsin (16-6, 7-4), with the pair receiving the fifth and fourth seeds, respectively.
Their opponent on Thursday will be the Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-18, 1-10), whom the Boilers beat handily in a 7-0 dual on April 16. Despite beating the Cornhuskers before, Purdue knows it can’t write them off early.
“You worked for your seeding throughout the regular season, but you can’t take things for granted,” head coach Pawel Gajdzik said. “We’re going to make sure we play to our potential.”
That potential is high, with two of Purdue’s star players looking for NCAA bids after the Big Ten tournament.
Senior Ricky Medinilla and junior Gergely Madarasz are the No. 25 doubles team in the nation while Madarasz is also ranked No. 104 in singles in the ITA collegiate rankings. Consistency from those two will be key as the Boilers progress through the tournament.
The Boilers are in a curious spot, though. By hosting the tournament at Purdue, they will also have to go to class during the days of their early tournament matches.
“For us, we’ll be going to play Thursday, but Thursday morning the guys will be going to school,” Gajdzik said, “while the other teams are just focusing on the tournament by itself.”
If the team is able to beat Nebraska, it then faces No. 3 seed Illinois, ranked No. 25 nationally, who the Boilers were able to defeat in a 4-3 victory during the regular season.
“It’ll be a real tough week,” said freshman Stephan Koenigsfest. “We already beat Illinois, but let’s see how it goes again.”
What the team wants the most is to see fans come out and support it.
“It’s fun for the guys; if they play in front of spectators it helps to get them to the next level,” said Gajdzik. “It’s tremendous to have that support.”
The first match will be at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Schwartz Tennis Center with the second match scheduled for the same time on Friday. The team will also find out if it received its first NCAA tournament bid in five years on Tuesday, with a Facebook live stream scheduled on the team’s page.