Men's Tennis Opens Conference Play at Creighton
Luka Marinkovic
Luka Marinkovic

March 30, 2007

NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State men's tennis team is set to open the Missouri Valley Conference season as they travel to Omaha, Neb and face the Creighton Blue Jays, Saturday, March 31 at the Hanscom Tennis Center. The match is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. If it rains the match will be moved indoors and play will begin at 1:30 p.m.

The squad will look to continue their winning ways as they enter conference play with at 7-6 mark on the season. The `Birds made history last year winning the MVC regular season crown for a first time and sweeping the Valley with a 7-0 record.

The `Birds have not seen action since their spring break two weeks ago, when they split two matches against The College of Charleston and The Citadel. Head coach Greg Kennett is ready to get his team back to action.

"We are definitely ready to play a match, this is the longest we have had off," said Kennett. "The break has been good for us. We have had a chance to play a lot of points and to get back into hitting the ball."

The Redbirds return six players from last year's team, and will look to seniors Yohann Nograbat and Alfredo Lagarda, who play No. 1 and 2, respectively. Nograbat is currently 5-9 at No. 1 and Lagarda has a 7-7 mark at No. 2 singles. The two seniors team up in doubles, and hold a 6-4 mark at No. 1 doubles.

In other doubles action, the `Birds will look to Luka Marinkovic and Daniel Tobar, who last year went 18-0 at No. 3. This year the duo is 2-0 at No. 2 and will be looking to continue their winning ways together.

"We have had some guys playing really well lately," said Kennett. "Luka and Daniel have really played well this past month and Yohann and Alfredo are really starting to play with confidence."

"It is just about feeling good and having confidence in your game," added Kennett. "It is the belief we can win some points by out lasting our opponents or out fighting somebody on the court. If we can believe that and keep our thoughts in check I think we are going to do well."

Creighton is on a three match losing slide and has already lost its first conference match against Wichita State (5-0). The Blue Jays are 4-6 overall.

"Creighton has a good coach, but they haven't been real strong lately," said Kennett. "This should be a good first match for us and an opportunity to get the conference season started."