Last Friday marked the beginning of the Missouri Valley Conference men’s tennis tournament, but it also marked the end of its season.
The fifth-seeded Braves came up short against the fourth-seeded Illinois State Redbirds.
“We were originally picked to get No. 7 in the conference and competing so well against the No. 4 team in the conference to finish out the season was great to see,” coach Jesse Plote said.
The Braves started out strong with a pair of juniors posting a victory in No. 1 doubles. Callen Fraychineaud and Milos Romic picked up a Braves-best 14th win of the year defeating Michael Hobson and Timon Reichelt of ISU 8-1 in a blowout.
However, Bradley’s luck ran out shortly after as the Braves lost the next two doubles matches.
The Redbirds’ Micah LeMoine and Skip Span defeated senior Michel Macara-chvili and freshman Mitch Osborne 8-6 in a close No. 2 match.
The BU team of junior Richard Robertson and senior Evgeny Samoylov fell short in an 8-4 loss against the team of Filip Miljevic and Xavier Riart-Ferrer at No. 3.
With the doubles matches in the books, all ISU needed was three singles victories to give themselves the overall win to move on to the second round.
Micah LeMoine started things off with a win in straight sets over Bradley’s only freshman, Osborne, 6-1, 6-0 in the No. 6 singles match.
ISU’s Hobson logged a win 7-6, 7-6 in the No. 5 match against Robertson.
Samoylov won the first set against Span but then lost the next two sets to lose the match in three sets at 4-6, 6-2, and 6-1 to give the Redbirds the overall victory at 4-0.
The rest of the singles matches went unfinished.
Romic and Reichelt were stopped in the third set of their match at No. 1 as was the No. 2 match of Miljevic and Fraychineaud. Riart-Ferrer and Macara-chvili were stopped in the second set of their No. 4 match.
Coach Plote said he thought his team competed very well in the MVC Tournament.
“We gave ourselves some opportunities to be in a great position in this match, but we couldn’t seal the deal at our positions,” he said.
Osborne played in two tough matches in the tournament and said he felt the team as a whole improved greatly over the course of the year.
“I felt like the improvement we made throughout the year was shown by our performance in the tournament,” he said. “We played Illinois State earlier in the year and we didn’t compete even close to as well as we did in the tournament. Overall, it was a pretty good showing and a good basis on the improvement of the team.”
Plote also said he thought the season was a great success, saying his players grew very close as a team and worked hard all throughout the season.
The Braves ended the year with an overall record of 8-13, posting six more victories than the 2007-2008 team.
Plote said he is already looking forward to building the program even more in the upcoming years.
He also said the summer will be used for a lot of traveling and recruiting to find players to push the returning veterans to be even better next season.