Setting The Scene: The regular season comes to a close this week, as both the men's and women's teams will be in action against Horizon League opponents. The men's squad heads to Valparaiso on Wednesday (April 15) for a 3:00 p.m. ET contest against the Crusaders, while the women will welcome Milwaukee to Indianapolis on Friday (April 17) for a 4:30 battle.
Women Go Undefeated: The women's tennis team picked up three big Horizon League wins last week, scoring 6-1 triumphs over both Wright State and Youngstown ssState before edging out Cleveland State, 4-3. The victories move the Bulldogs to 11-10 overall and 6-1 in conference play.
Speaking Of Undefeated: Juniors Molly Casperson and Becky Jenkins each escaped last week unscathed, going 3-0 in both singles and doubles competition. In singles play, Casperson picked up wins at the No. 3 spots against Wright State, Youngstown State and Cleveland State, scoring a 6-1, 6-4 triumph against the Raiders, a 6-4, 7-6 (4) win against the Penguins and a 6-1, 6-3 decision against the Vikings. Jenkins, meanwhile, scored a 6-0, 6-0 sweep over Wright State, rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Youngstown State and picked up a 6-2, 6-2 decision against Cleveland State at No. 4. The duo also teamed up for three wins at the top doubles positions, scoring an 8-5 win over WSU, a 9-7 victory at YSU and a 9-8 (3) decision at CSU.
Moving On Up: Sophomore Brandon Bayliss stepped up big for the men's team in its wins over Wright State and Youngstown State last week. With top singles player Ben Raynauld out due to injury, some necessary reshuffling of the line-up saw Bayliss move up from his regular No. 4 position up to No. 2. The Sheboygan, Wis., native was undaunted, however, rolling to a 6-2, 6-4 win over the Raiders before holding on for a 6-0, 2-6, 1-0 (7) victory over the Penguins. Bayliss is now 3-0 on the year when playing at one of the top two singles spots.
Weekly Dominance: The Horizon League is quite aware of the strong play by the Bulldogs this season. Butler has collected a total of six Horizon League Player of the Week awards, including five by the women's team. Sophomore Natali Jaimes picked up a pair of recognitions during the fall, while sophomore Gabriella Bobrowski, junior Becky Jenkins and freshman Cam Thompson have each earned one this spring. Junior Ben Raynauld scored the lone award for the men's team this season.
Youth Movement: Both the Butler men's and women's teams head into the spring campaign without a single senior member on their rosters. The men's squad features two juniors, five sophomores (including a first-year Butler player) and two freshmen, while the women's team boasts three juniors, two sophomores and five rookies. The one thing neither team is short on is talent, however. Among the 11 returning players are four All-Horizon League Team members from a season ago, including men's players Brandon Bayliss and Ben Raynauld and women's players Molly Casperson and Natali Jaimes.
Head Coach Jason Suscha: Jason Suscha, in his 12th season as the head coach of the Butler men's tennis team and 10th year at the helm of the women's squad, continues to reign supreme in the world of Horizon League tennis. The five-time Horizon League Men's Tennis Coach of the Year boasts a 178-117 overall record at Butler, including an astounding 73-5 mark against conference foes. Suscha has also consistently positioned the Butler women's squad near the top of the Horizon League. Under his guidance, the Bulldogs have combined for a 124-111 record - including a dominant 72-22 mark in league play - and have advanced to the tournament championship match in eight of his nine years.
Next Up: Butler opens up the Horizon League
Championship next weekend (April 24-26) at the North Central High
School tennis courts in Indianapolis.