Sven Kasper will play for a championship — and redemption — today.
Kasper, Wichita State's No. 1 singles player, couldn't imagine a worse day serving the tennis ball than he had Saturday. He didn't earn a point in doubles or singles, but the bottom of WSU's roster came through in a 4-2 victory over Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference men's tournament semifinals.
WSU plays Illinois State in today's final, seeking to win its 23rd conference championship and first since 2004.
The WSU women also advanced to the finals. They defeated Northern Iowa 4-1 and play Illinois State at 10 a.m.
Depth won for the Shocker men, something coach Brad Louderback attributes to recruiting.
"I want to be just as tough up top as down below," he said. "We do have depth and we are, at 4, 5 and 6, a strong team. I don't recruit 5s and 6s, I get No. 1 players. That's why we have that depth."
No. 4 singles player David Cavalcanti had three chances to clinch the victory for the Shockers. Up 40-0 and three match points, all eyes turned to him to seal it.
"It's always a great feeling when you are deciding a match, but you also feel the pressure," Cavalcanti said. "I knew my point was very important, I had the match to win, so I gave 100 percent."
Cavalcanti charged the net to get his final point and defeated Jonathan Hadash 6-4, 6-2.
WSU's No. 5 and 6 singles players, Matheus Pereira and Adrian Chermaci, also won their matches for singles points.
"For us, anybody can play No. 1 and anybody can play No. 6, so that makes us tough," Cavalcanti said.
The No. 2 and 3 doubles teams got the early point for WSU. Marinescu and Chermaci defeated Jean Erasmus and Jonathan Hadash 8-4. Then, Cavalcanti and Pereira defeated Ryan King and Ryan Drake 8-2.
Kasper had seven double faults against MVC co-player of the year Mauricio Ballivian. When Kasper got his first serve in, he was in control, but it just didn't happen often enough. Ballivian defeated Kasper 6-3, 6-2.
Kasper can't wait to fix it today.
"I'm not satisfied. I didn't play bad, but I had too many unforced errors," Kasper said. "Today, there's less pressure because I can't serve much worse."
The women, led by No. 1 singles player Lutfiana Budiharto's 6-2, 6-2 win against Phoebe Walker, are trying for their 11th conference championship.
"We came out and set the tone in doubles, came out aggressive and played on our terms. We made things happen," WSU women's coach Colin Foster said. "It's going to be exciting. We have our hands full with Illinois State, that's a great program. It's been a fun weekend and hopefully we can cap it off with a great match."
Wichita St. 4, Drake 2
Singles—Ballivian, DU, def. Kasper 6-3, 6-2; McKie, DU, def. Marinescu 6-4, 6-3; Mihai, WSU, def. Erasmus 6-4, 5-4 (unfinished); Cavalcanti, WSU, def. Hadash 6-4, 6-2; Pereira, WSU, def. Drake, DU, 6-1, 6-2; Chermaci, WSU, def. King 6-0, 6-1.
Doubles—Kasper-Mihai, WSU, def. Ballivian-McKie 7-6 (unfinished); Chermaci-Marinescu, WSU, def. Erasmus-Hadash 8-4; Pereira-Cavalanti, WSU, def. Drake-King 8-2.
Illinois St. 4, S. Illinois 0
Singles—Reichelt, ISU, def. Migogo 6-4, 0-0 (unfinished); Pelaez, ISU, def. De Beenhouwer 6-3, 6-1; Zlatkovic, ISU, def. Florez 6-2, 2-5 (unfinished); Span, ISU, def. Kidera 6-2, 6-2; Riart-Ferrer, ISU, def. Leonenko 6-1, 6-0; LeMoine, ISU, def. Spahic 6-4, 2-3 (unfinished).
Doubles—Pelaez-Hobson, ISU, def. Florez-Kideara 8-6; Reichelt-Zlatkovic, ISU, def. Migogo-De Beenhouwer 3-6, unfinished; Span-Miljevic, ISU. def. Spahic-Leonenko 8-1.
Wichita St. 4, N. Iowa 1
Singles—Budiharto, WSU, def. Walker 6-2, 6-2; Dalmacio, WSU, def. Gonzalez 6-0, 6-5 (unfinished); Lazaroiu, WSU, def. Kanade 7-5, 2-2 (unfinished); Damaschin, WSU, def. Kunzelman 6-4, 6-1; Hanisch, WSU, def. Sampaio 6-0, 6-1; Delagardelle, UNI, def. Wakim 6-1, 6-2.
Doubles—Budiharto-Dalmacio, WSU, def. Walker-Gonzalez 8-4; Hanisch-Lazaroiu, WSU, def. Kanade-Kunzelman 8-2; Wakim-Damaschin, WSU, def. Delagardelle-Sampaio 7-6 (unfinished).
Illinois St. 4, S. Illinois 0
Singles—Kiss, ISU, def. Delsart 6-1, 2-6 (unfinished); Steinhardt, ISU, def. Whitney 6-4, 5-6 (unfinished); Zubkova, ISU, def. Dien 6-3, 6-1; Lech, ISU, def. Vianna Ce 6-2, 6-0; Maack, ISU, def. Cruise 7-6 (7-3), 6-2; Esker, ISU, def. Flannery 5-7, 5-4 (unfinished).
Doubles—Zubkova-Steinhardt, ISU, def. Vianna Ce-Delsart 8-4; Lech-Maack, ISU, def. Dien-Flannery 7-2 (unfinished); Esker-Peters, ISU, def. Cruise-Simons 8-4.