SAN DIEGO — The Michigan State men’s tennis duo of junior Max Sheldon and sophomore Ozan Baris accomplished an extraordinary feat at the ITA Fall National Championships, securing the doubles title and becoming the program’s first-ever national champions on Sunday.
“This victory truly establishes Michigan State as a force to be reckoned with at the national level,” exclaimed MSU coach Harry Jadun. “We have only just begun, and I am eagerly looking forward to the future and the opportunities it presents.”
Sheldon and Baris triumphed over Old Dominion’s Connor and Codie Van Schalkwyk in the title match, prevailing with a score of 7-5, 6-3. Despite being down 5-4, a game away from losing the first set, the MSU pair displayed resilience and managed to turn the tide in their favor. They carried the momentum into the second set, preventing their opponents from claiming consecutive games and ultimately securing the victory in straight sets.
Throughout the tournament, Sheldon and Baris showed remarkable resolve, winning tiebreakers in each of the previous four rounds.
Coach Jadun praised their ability to remain resolute during crucial moments, stating, “I am immensely proud of their composure in high-pressure situations, not just today, but throughout the entire tournament. From the first match on Wednesday to the final on Sunday, they consistently performed at an exceptional level, which is crucial in a tournament of this caliber.”
In the opening round of 32 on Wednesday, the duo faced stiff competition from South Florida’s Alvin Tudorica and Erik Grevelius. After splitting the first sets, the Spartans secured a decisive 10-5 victory in the tiebreaker set to advance.
The following night, Sheldon and Baris engaged in an epic battle against Jeremie Casabon and Nathan Cox of Vanderbilt, prevailing with a hard-fought victory of 6-3, 6-7, 16-14. In the quarterfinals, they emerged victorious over Boston College’s JJ Bianchi and Jake Vassel with a score of 7-6, 6-3.
In the semifinals on Saturday, Sheldon and Baris once again showcased their ability to perform under pressure, securing a tight tiebreaker victory in the first set and maintaining their advantage in the second set. The Washington duo of Cesar Bouchelaghem and Dzianis Zharyn proved to be worthy opponents, but the Spartan duo emerged triumphant with a score of 7-6, 6-3.
Even before the tournament began, Sheldon and Baris made history by earning entry into the ITA Fall National Championships, becoming the second MSU doubles team to achieve this feat since Francisco Trinidad and Ken Kigongo in 1998. Their impressive performance in the preseason, including being ranked as the No. 2 doubles team in the nation by the ITA Preseason Poll, set the stage for their incredible run.
In addition to their doubles success, Baris also made history in the singles draw of the ITA Fall National Championships, becoming the first player in program history to qualify. Ranked No. 25 in the ITA’s singles poll, Baris secured several top-25 victories during the fall season and claimed Michigan State’s first-ever singles win in the tournament. Unfortunately, his singles run came to an end in the second round, as he was defeated by Radu Papoe of Cornell with a score of 6-4, 6-3.
With the men’s tennis fall season now concluded, Baris, Sheldon, and the rest of the Spartans who contributed to this historic preseason will await the ITA’s post-fall rankings update on November 15.
– MSU Athletic Communications
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Michigan State tennis: Doubles duo wins school’s first national title
Jessica Roberts serves up the latest in the world of tennis. With a love for the racket sport, she reports on tennis matches, player rankings, and Grand Slam events, ensuring readers stay informed about the tennis world.