Michigan State’s Baris, Sheldon to rep school at NCAA Tennis Championships
First appearance in NCAA Championships since 2015.
EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A week ago, Michigan State University’s men’s tennis team finished up its postseason play with a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal loss to Michigan.
But the season isn’t quite over for a pair of Spartans.
The last time the MSU Men’s tennis team was represented in the NCAA championships was back in 2015. Funny enough, the player to do so was current head coach and former All-American Harry Jadun, as he made a historic semifinal run in the championships.
Now nearly a decade later after a sizzling spring season, freshman Ozan Baris and sophomore Max Sheldon both earned at-large bids into the tournament, now hoping to one-up their coach in the process.
Tickets PUNCHED.— Michigan State Men’s Tennis (@MSU_MTennis) May 2, 2023
Ozan Baris and Max Sheldon are headed to the NCAA Doubles Championships! They're the first Spartan doubles team to receive a bid since 2015.
📰 https://t.co/9lXZz1l0Nc#GoGreen pic.twitter.com/H2RBlO323T
“I mean Harry’s a good doubles player. So is JP Mullane and yeah even playing with Harry now, he’s got some double skills,” Baris said of his head coach. “So hopefully we can match that and do our thing as well.”
“Obviously we’re gonna try to do that. Me and Ozan definitely believe that we can beat anybody on any given day,” Sheldon said smiling. “We’re gonna be going for the national title trying to win the whole thing. I think that would show Harry.”
Currently ranked 49th in singles and ninth in singles, Baris, Michigan State’s highest-ever rated recruit, was recently named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Congratulations Ozan Baris, 𝗕𝟭𝗚 𝗙𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗵𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗬𝗲𝗮𝗿! 🔥 @MSU_MTennis x @bigten pic.twitter.com/3MAR0zhRqs— Michigan State on BTN (@MichiganStOnBTN) May 1, 2023
Baris has lived up to the billing, as he became the first Spartan singles player since 2007 to qualify for the Championships and the first freshman to do since 1996.
They’re milestones even he hasn’t grasped the magnitude of quite yet.
“Not that much. Again, I’m just kind of doing my own thing. It’s good to get those achievements and awards but I just got to keep going put my head down and do what I’m doing,” Baris said,
In doubles, Baris and Sheldon have become a surging duo that’s been climbing the rankings in the spring, with a season-high ranking as high as six in college tennis.
And it’s a doubles pair with certainly differing personalities.
“I feel like doubles is interesting. You don’t really know how it’s gonna go until you play with each other and sometimes it even takes a couple of times,” Baris said of his and Sheldon’s success. “We started playing we were solid and then after a couple of matches, I feel like both of us just started stepping up.”
Their differing styles of play have played a role, as they finished 10-3 overall, including five ranked wins in the spring season.
“He fires me up. If he can get me yelling, you know, my level goes up too, but it’s fun watching this guy go crazy over like the smallest points possible,” Sheldon laughed.
Both Baris and Sheldon are confident that their best on the court can be good enough to make a deep run in Orlando.
More importantly, putting MSU’s program back in a place it hasn’t been in some time is certainly the biggest accomplishment.
“Honestly, the coolest part is I get to represent Michigan State, represent my family my home. I couldn’t see myself doing anywhere else. It’s just such a special opportunity to be able to play for Michigan State as a whole,” Baris said of the unique opportunity.
Singles and doubles competition at the NCAA Championships will take place May 22-27 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, after the conclusion of the team tournament.
The first round of singles play is set for Monday, May 22, while doubles will begin on Tuesday, May 23. Pairings will be announced at a later date.
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