The Marquette men’s tennis team (13-10) is set to begin Big East Championship play Wednesday against South Florida in South Bend, Ind.
Sophomore Jose Carlos Gutierrez Crowley leads the Golden Eagles into battle on a three-game win streak at No. 1 singles and an overall regular season record of 14-9.
Marquette has yet to defeat a conference opponent this spring as it dropped its two matches against Big East competition. Marquette lost a 7-0 decision to tournament host Notre Dame on Feb. 12 and finished the regular season with a 5-2 loss to DePaul on April 16.
That means the Golden Eagles will play most of the tournament as an underdog, but sophomore Otavio Perim feels that status eases the tension of the Big East Championship.
“We don’t have any pressure. I think we are going to be the underdogs from the first round onward,” Perim said. “I don’t think we’ve really had any wins that we deserve, but we’re all going to put all of our energy into the tournament and I think we’re going to pull off a good upset.
“I just hope that everyone’s on the same page and that everyone tries as hard as I’m going to.”
This will be senior Jose Manuel Munoz’s last conference tournament, and he has high expectations.
“We’ve been working really hard, and even though we’ll be facing some really good teams, we should have a really good chance of finishing well,” Munoz said. “I think doubles are going to be key. It’s going to be crucial that all three teams show up in every match.”
The doubles point has been tough for the men’s team to capture this year, as all three teams won only once in the same match: against Illinois-Chicago in a 7-0 sweep on Feb. 4. Marquette’s doubles record is 50-43 this spring.
Coach Steve Rodecap said he wants to take the tournament match by match, as Marquette will face opponents that have had great success this year, such as Louisville (14-11) and Notre Dame (15-8).
“We separate our season into portions, and right now we are in the third and most important portion,” Rodecap said. “Obviously, you want to go into the tournament playing your best tennis, and I think we are en route to doing that.
“I think we’ve had our young guys playing very well and we’ve played well in the top spots, which is going to put us in position to beat some teams.”