April 22, 2008
Setting The Scene: The Butler men's tennis team enters the Horizon League Championship as the No. 3 seed and will take on sixth-seeded Valparaiso on Saturday (April 26) at the North Central High School tennis courts beginning at 8:00 a.m. The women's team, meanwhile, begins their tournament run as the No. 2 seed and earns a two-match bye into the semifinals of the bracket where they will face the survivor of the first two rounds involving No. 3 Detroit, No. 6 Milwaukee and No. 7 Wright State beginning at 4:00 p.m.
Looking Ahead: A win by the men's team in the quarterfinals will move them into the semifinals to face either No. 2 UIC and No. 7 Youngstown State beginning later that day at 1:00 p.m. A victory by the women's team sends them to the championship bout on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
Last Year's Tourney: The top-seeded Butler men's team notched its ninth Horizon League Championship in 2008, topping No. 4 seed Wright State in the semis before ousting No. 3 UIC in the title match. The second-seeded women's team, meanwhile, came up just short of their first-ever championship, battling top-seeded UIC to a 3-3 tie before falling in the final singles bout.
Hawesome!: Michelle Hawes has undoubtably been the most dominant Bulldog of late and has played a key role in the women's team's recent run of success. The senior No. 6 singles player has won her last 10-straight singles bouts, including match-clinching battles against Ball State, Cleveland State and Detroit. She claimed seven of the wins in straight sets, with two ending in 6-0, 6-0 sweeps.
All Good Things Must Come To An End: The Butler men's squad had its incredible Horizon League regular season dual-meet winning streak come to an end last weekend at UIC with a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Flames. Including five straight dual meet victories this season, the Bulldogs had won 49-straight regular season bouts during a span of 12 years, dating back to a 6-1 defeat to Northern Illinois at the end of the 1996 season.
Double-Trouble: The doubles competition might only factor in for one of the seven points in a dual meet, but, for Butler, it has been the difference between winning and losing the match. Both the men's and women's teams are undefeated at 10-0 in dual meets this season when they secure the doubles point, while the men are 1-10 and the women are 1-8 when falling in doubles.
The Regulars: The Bulldogs have grown quite accustomed to seeing at least one of their own mentioned as the Horizon League's Player of the Week during the season, as a Butler tennis player has been recognized with the league's weekly honor nine times. Six different Bulldogs have earned the league's mentions, including three by Ben Raynauld (Feb. 27, March 25 and April 8) and two by Molly Casperson (April 1 and April 8). Eric Breitenbach (Feb. 13), Natali Jaimes (Feb. 20), Brandon Bayliss (March 4) and Chris Herron (April 1) have also been honored.
Head Coach Jason Suscha: Jason Suscha, in his 11th season as the head coach of the Butler men's tennis team and ninth 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 167-104 overall record at Butler, including an astounding 67-2 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 111-100 record, including a dominant 65-20 mark in league play, and have advanced to the tournament championship match in seven of his eight seasons.