Marquette Wire

Men’s tennis continues to protect home court

Greg+Anderson+setting+up+for+a+backhand+shot+at+the+Helfaer+Tennis+Stadium.
Greg Anderson setting up for a backhand shot at the Helfaer Tennis Stadium.

Greg Anderson setting up for a backhand shot at the Helfaer Tennis Stadium.

Photo by Brian Georgeson

Photo by Brian Georgeson

Greg Anderson setting up for a backhand shot at the Helfaer Tennis Stadium.

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All eyes were on Greg Anderson’s third singles match Sunday morning at the Helfaer Tennis Stadium.

A couple courts away, second singles player Luke Smrek sat packing his racket bag after just losing out in a tight three-set potential dual clincher. Now, with the dual score tied at three matches to three, Anderson stood as Marquette’s last chance to secure a victory against the PAC-12 powerhouse Utah Utes.

Anderson had lost the first set 6-7 before coming back and winning the second set 7-5. Six games into the third set, the game score was tied at three games apiece, with neither player able to break their opponent’s serve. Both teams, as well as the surprisingly large but consistently present Marquette fan section, gathered around the court to watch the tennis tug-of-war. It was as tight and exciting as a tennis match can be.

It wasn’t just one match on the line, but Marquette’s home win streak. Coming into the match, the Golden Eagles had won 15 straight times at home since April 2015.

As “We are Marquette” chants rained down upon the decisive match, Anderson turned the tables and won the first three points off his opponent’s serve.

“It was amazing, I’ve never had that many people (watching me) at once,” Anderson said. “To support me like that, I can’t really put it into words. … It’s crazy.”

He went on to win the game and eventually the match 6-4. Marquette found its fourth match victory needed to down the Utes and extend their home winning streak to six on the season. The overall home win streak moved to 16.

Anderson swears he doesn’t let the streak occupy any mental space mid-match. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t creep into his mind from time to time.

“I actually thought about it this morning. We had a tough team come over, and I wanted to see what we could do with it,” Anderson said. “It was one of those thoughts that was in the back of my head that’s pretty cool. … It’s a great feeling, especially now two seasons in a row.”

For the elder statesmen of the team, the streak represents something far less consequential. Protecting their home court is a goal, of course, but it’s not a mandate worthy of getting psyched out, they say.

“The streak isn’t something we think about,” senior Mackenzie Stearns said. “As much as our current streak is impressive, what it really shows is our willingness to battle with teams coming into our facility and not letting anyone push us around. “

Of the 11-man roster, only four current players, Stearns, Kristiyan Trukov, Andre Romanello and Nick Dykema, have ever lost a match at Helfaer.

“After our win against Utah, a friend asked me when the last time was when we lost at home,” Dykema said. “I had to ask the other seniors and we thought it might have been the Cleveland State match our sophomore year, but we weren’t positive.”

“It would have taken me some time to remember the last time we lost,” Trukov said. “(Cleveland State) sounds right, and yeah, it feels like a very long time ago.”

For head coach Steve Rodecap, the streak represents more of an empowering luxury than a tangible goal. The rowdy atmosphere is certainly a potent energy source for his players, but he’s hoping to capture that same spark while on the road, where the Golden Eagles have yet to pick up a win this season.

For now, though, he’s just thankful for the large swaths of fans, friends, parents and extended family who come out to watch a not particularly spectator-friendly sport.

And these fans make each win a touch sweeter. With each Marquette home victory, Helfaer quickly evolves into a house party. Intercoms flood the courts with the Marquette fight song, before an aux chord hijacking promptly cue’s up Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” and other adjacent party songs. Pictures are taken, hugs are given and local team moms pass out cookies and other baked goods.

The men’s tennis team may not focus much on their home winning streak, but they certainly are enjoying it.

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