Undefeated Golden Eagles head to Vegas
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There’s a sports team on Marquette’s campus that has a great shot at making the NCAA Tournament if it continues its impressive form. No, not the men’s basketball team — the men’s tennis team.
The 6-1 win over Eastern Illinois Sunday was the 11th win in as many games for the newly ranked No. 70 Golden Eagles, the first ranking in the program’s history. But each one of those games was played at the Helfaer Tennis Stadium. Now, for the first time this season, the team will have to hit the road and play on foreign turf.
But for the moment, coach Steve Rodecap will enjoy the team’s victory.
“I feel like our guys have earned it,” Rodecap said. “I feel like they have been playing well and practicing well. It’s a good feeling to be where we’re at. I know that we have a big task in front of us and I think our guys are eager to go on the road and see what we can do.”
In the past four years, each of Marquette’s first away matches resulted in a loss, a record senior Dusan Medan is looking to break.
“We have a lot of confidence now after winning 11 in a row and with that tradition (of losses) I think it’s just there to break it,” Medan said.
Besides Marquette’s winning streak, the team has yet to drop more than two sets all season.
Leading this team will be the big three. Again, not the basketball players. Medan and fellow seniors Mark Rutherford and Niko Boulieris, who were honored at Senior Day on Sunday, have all set records this season and have been big supporters for the rest of the squad.
Medan, who came back in his singles dual to win 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, is ranked 88th in the country, which is the highest rank by any Marquette tennis player in at least a decade.
Rutherford recorded his record-breaking 95th doubles victory last Sunday and the week before that, Boulieris earned his 79th singles victory to set a new school record. For Boulieris, his last match at Marquette was important both statistically and emotionally.
“It was a great way to go out,” Boulieris said. “We had a lot of support from the fans and it was bittersweet. But the guys played really well today and kept their energy high. And it was great to have Mark (Rutherford) and Dusan (Medan) on the court beside me. It was really special.”
Out of all of the teams Boulieris has played with in the last four years, he believes this is the closest the team has ever been.
“I feel like this is a brotherhood and I feel really privileged to play with these guys,” he said. “But we’re really excited. We know we have the ability to beat these teams.”
Marquette’s road ahead will be tough, playing three ranked teams in the coming games. First up: the Golden Eagles will swap their snow boots for flip-flops in Las Vegas, as they take on Pacific March 5, followed by No. 40 Hawaii the following day.
Medan knows the road ahead will be challenging, but he is confident in his team’s recent form and is not nervous at all about leaving Marquette’s courts.
“You just go there and stay composed,” Medan said. “Those guys are good but I think that we are just as good as them and maybe even better. We’re just going to go there fighting and see what happens.”