Jackrabbits aced out by Bluejays

Kirk Danielson

Kirk Danielson

The SDSU men’s tennis team has had some setbacks this season.

“We’re missing three players now,” said Coach Josh Lunak, “so we’re moving everybody from the JV up to the lineup. It’s been a struggle.”

Nevertheless, the team strapped on their tennis shoes and took on Creighton University in their first home match of the year April 17. The Jacks fell to the Blue Jays 7-0 at the Hillcrest courts, but had strong showings by a number of players.

“Creighton usually beats us, but we could have played a lot better,” said Lunak. “This season has definitely been a rebuilding process. If we had our players healthy, we’d be very competitive, but at the Division-I level, you can’t lose three of your top six. We don’t have the depth for that.”

Freshman Jeff Hughes, ranked No. 2, was a walk-on to this year’s tennis team. Hughes has been playing as the Jacks’ number two the last several weeks, and has had to step up his game.

“It’s been a difficult season,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries. We lost three players this year which makes it tough. Most of the players I’m playing against are on full scholarships from other schools.”

Even with the stiff competition and misfortune of the season, Hughes still talks positively about this year.

“We’re still fighting. It’s been good … fun, the guys on the team are real good guys,” said Hughes.

This rebuilding year has seen much improvement and growth in the young team. The team looks to return all of its top six players next year. This season has seen wins posted by freshman Corey Paluch, sophomore Matt Gill and junior Steve Grantz. The team is also looking to bolster their squad before next year.

“There are no seniors on the guys team, so that should help bring in some good recruits,” said Lunak. “We should be pretty solid next year.”

As the spring season winds down, the tennis team has been gaining some momentum. They will also be reinforced by the return of freshman Corey Paluch for Friday’s match against the University of Sioux Falls. The tennis team has one more thing in their favor: vengeance.

“We’re looking for revenge on USF for last year,” said Lunak. “They kind of left a bad taste in our mouth, and we’re looking to get our first win for the guys.”

Come out and support the Jacks as they host the University of Sioux Falls at the Hillcrest courts. Play starts at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 20.

#1.883497:3468159377.jpg:tennisvcrieghton2.jn.jpg:Steve Grantz returns a serve against Creighton in SDSU’s first ever Division-I tennis match April 17.:#1.883496:1103735739.jpg:tennisvscreighton1.jn.jpg:Matt Gill, a sophomore from Pierre, makes a return swing against a Creighton opponent April 17.: