URBANA, Ill. - The Ball State men's tennis team (14-11) ended its season with a 4-0 loss to No. 12 Illinois (24-7) in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tennis champions Friday afternoon at Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex.
The Cardinals fell behind early to the Fighting Illini after Illinois won the doubles point. The No. 5 twosome of Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon of Illinois defeated the Ball State duo of Ray Leonard and Austin Smith by a score of 8-4 on court one. At No. 3 doubles Lucas Andersen and Matt Helm battled against the Orange and Blue's Blake Bazarnik and Alex Jesse but would end up losing, 8-6.
In singles action, Andrew Stutz was the first of the court losing at the No. 6 position, 6-1, 6-3 to Guignon. At No. 1 singles, Leonard followed with a loss after suffering a 6-3, 6-1 setback to No. 8 Jared Hiltzik. No. 63 Tim Kopinski would clinch the win for Illinois after he beat Andersen, 6-1, 6-2 at the No. 3 spot.
Ball State earned the right to compete at the NCAA championship today after the Cardinals defeated Buffalo April 26 in the title match of the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament at the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center. It was the first time the Cardinals had been to the final match of the MAC Tournament since the 2011 season when Ball State won the title at Western Michigan's Sorenson Courts.
Ball State head men's tennis coach Bill Richards in his 42nd season at the helm of the Cardinals, has led the program to 22 MAC titles, including 17 undefeated MAC seasons. Ball State has participated in the MAC for the last 33 years, claiming 38 regular season and or tournament championships. Since the MAC tournament format started in 1997, the Cardinals have won it seven times (1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2011 and 2014).