Redbirds Advance to Finals at MVC Individual Championships
Michael Sellitto
Michael Sellitto

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DES MOINES, Iowa. - The Illinois State men's tennis team advanced to the final round of singles action at the MVC Individual Championships Saturday, Jan. 19 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Redbirds also ended day two of the tournament with an overall 4-1 doubles record, advancing all three doubles teams to the semi finals.

Head coach Cris James is happy with the Redbirds' first doubles performance of the new season.

"We're not really sure what the doubles teams are going to be this season," said James. "Right now we're just trying new teams and looking for improvements and progress."

Alexander Pelaez and Jakub Eisner defeated Guillermo Nicol and Tomislav of Wichita State, 4-1, in doubles play. The duo then went on to beat Martijn Admiraal and Brandon Flores of Southern Illinois, 8-3, to advance to the finals. Muddappa Appanervanda and Rolondo Torrellas also advanced to the doubles finals by taking down Jonny Rigby and Badr Cherradi of Southern Illinois, 8-5, and then moving past Justin Abrams and Juan Diego Cuadrado of Bradley, 8-5.

Jacob Wilson and Michael Sellitto were defeated by Ben Lot and Grant Tesmer of Drake, 8-2, but were still able to advance to the final round.

"We tried out some new doubles teams today and it definitely looked to me like they got better and better as the day went on," said James. "Whenever you start new teams it takes a little bit of time to get used to but it looked like they were really starting to click."

The Redbirds were not quite able to carry their momentum into afternoon singles, advancing only three of seven players to the final rounds.

Erik Brunskog defeated Brandon Florez of Southern Illinois in singles action, 6-1,6-2, to advance to the final round. Torrellas took down Kevin Keiner of Bradley, 6-0, 6-0, to advance to the finals. And Sellitto beat Martijn Admiraal of Southern Illinois, 6-4, 7-5, to also advance to the final round of singles play.

Pelaez was defeated by James McKie of Drake, 6-3, 7-6 (3), and Wilson fell to Alen Salibasic of Drake, 7-6 (7), 6-1. Eisner lost to Alvaro Gutierrez of Wichita State, 0-6, 7-6 (6), 6-0, and Appanervanda was defeated by Ben Mullis of Drake, 6-4, 6-0.

"Some of the singles matches we lost were pretty close," said James. "A lot of times these matches come down to one or two points and we really need to value those situations. We need to focus on sustaining our level throughout the entire match. Not that we did that poorly, but we played against some teams that did that a little better."

ISU continues play at the MVC Individual Championships Sunday, Jan. 20 for the final rounds of singles and doubles play. Tomorrow's action will conclude the tournament. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.