2/2/19 Green Bay, Athell Bennett

Junior Athell Bennett makes a backhand hit in the alley during his doubles match with partner Franz Luna.

The Boilermakers (4-1) faced Marquette University (2-2) and University of Wisconsin, Green Bay (0-4) on Saturday, coming away with two wins.

Purdue won the doubles point against Marquette as juniors Franz Luna and Athell Bennett finished their match first, winning 6-3 in position one. Sophomore Maksymilian Raupuk and senior Dominik Sochurek lost their match 6-4 in position three, leaving it up to the position two pairing to secure the point. Sophomore Mateo Julio and junior Stephan Koenigsfest were able to successfully secure the doubles point for Purdue, winning 7-5.

Bennett played a challenging singles match against the Golden Eagles. The match began with a 4-6 loss by Bennett. However, he came out on top in the next two sets, winning the second set 7-5 and clenching the match 6-3 in the third set.

Head coach Pawel Gajdzik was pleased with Bennett’s ability to hold on to the singles win against Marquette in Purdue’s first match of the day.

“We talk a lot about (the) standard that is expected from people playing at the top of the line-up. The expectations of the way the program should be represented,” Gajdzik said. “He is very receptive and is trying to improve day to day. The intensity of his training has definitely been better and it shows.”

Gajdzik credited Bennett for his hard work over the years, pointing out Bennett’s significant progress.

“He came in as a walk-on and earned his spot in the line-up. He came in at the number six position,” Gajdzik said. “Now he’s moved up to (player) number one. It shows that if you progress correctly and if you trust the process of what you are doing, you can get much better.”

Bennett played in the number one position on Saturday for both matches. Gadjzik said that Bennett has earned his spot for the number one position but holds faith in the skills of the other players.

“We have a couple of guys that are capable to play number one for us. In the last few weeks, Athell was earning that spot,” Gajdzik said. “We’ll see how it goes this week in practice. I think we have a couple of guys that can definitely be up there.”

Purdue came out with a close win of 4-3 against Marquette in its first match of the day.

Gajdzik said the team had to work on a couple things throughout the match. He also noted the team did well with the quick turnaround going into the afternoon.

The Boilermakers had a close match in the morning but came away with a shutout in the afternoon. Purdue defeated Green Bay 4-0 in its second match of the day.

Gadjzik said that going into the second match, the team had to focus on its mentality; conditioning contributed to the success of the team.

Luna had a fantastic performance on Saturday, winning all of his matches with a dominant part of his individual game.

“My serve is one of my best skills. I need to improve my serve, but I think it’s a weapon,” Luna said.

Luna and Bennett won both of their doubles matches 6-4.

“The energy that we have together is really good. We understand each other well on the court,” Luna said.

The Boilermakers earned the doubles point in both matches; however, Gadjzik said the team is still seeking the optimal doubles pairings.

“We are still searching for the best combinations,” Gajdzik said. “Every match is an opportunity for some of the guys to prove themselves and show the work that we’ve done. By no means are we done experimenting and trying to figure out what are going to be the ideal combinations.”

After Saturday’s match, Luna said he was feeling good and the wins gave the team a lot of confidence.

“We played two very competitive teams. Marquette won the conference last year and Green Bay is one of the top teams in their conference. It was definitely good competition for us and coming away with two wins at the end of the day is always a success.”

Koenigsfest said the team has some difficult matches coming up ahead, but he believes the Boilermakers are ready for the challenge.

Purdue takes on Northwestern at noon on Feb. 2 in Evanston, Illinois.

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