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Middle Tennessee Men’s Tennis Wins Fifth Consecutive Conference USA Championship

Noah Maddox
Posted 4/24/24

MTSU Men's Tennis won their fifth-consecutive C-USA Tournament Championship, 4-2, over Liberty on Sunday.

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Middle Tennessee Men’s Tennis Wins Fifth Consecutive Conference USA Championship


Under the guidance of Jimmy Borendame, Middle Tennessee Men’s Tennis is quickly becoming – if it isn’t already – a dynasty in Conference USA after winning their fifth consecutive tournament championship over #53 Liberty, 4-2, on Sunday. 

The Blue Raiders kick-started things by winning the doubles point, which statistically speaking has led to an MTSU win roughly 80% of the time this season. That meant the Blue Raiders only needed to win three of the six singles matches. In those matches, Leo Raquin beat Marques Da Silva in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, Marcel Kamrowski also beat Luis Felipe Miguel in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, and Jakub Kroslak won the clincher in straight sets as well over Thando Longwe-Smit, 6-3, 6-3.

“It’s just a sense of relief for me, you know,” Borendame expressed post match, “I like winning, but I hate losing more, and right now I’m just trying to soak it all in.”

Borendame took over the program in 2011, winning back to back Sun Belt Championships in 2011 and 2012, but before 2019, MTSU hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament since that 2012 title. A seven year title drought was not what he was hoping for, but it made that first championship in 2019 that much sweeter. That championship feeling has not gone away for five seasons, and after defeating the Flames in Murfreesboro, he still recognizes how difficult it is to win just one title, much less five in a row.

“It’s extremely hard [to win just one title],” he said, “we already had a giant target on our back, and now that target has just gotten bigger.”

Jimmy Borendame (middle) holds the C-USA Tournament Trophy.
Jimmy Borendame (middle) holds the C-USA Tournament Trophy.

“I don’t talk about it a lot, but there are so many different pieces involved,” he continued, “and to get everyone involved to mesh with the culture every year, it is a task, but it’s enjoyable,” said Borendame.

Some of those pieces were new players, including a freshman, Jakub Kroslak (pronounced “Yah-Cub”), who won the match clinching point for the second time this season. 

“I was even dreaming yesterday about it and I can’t even describe how I feel right now,” he said afterwards.

Jakub Kroslak collapses to the court after winning Sunday's clinching point.
Jakub Kroslak collapses to the court after winning Sunday's clinching point.

“Yesterday it was a dream, and today my dream came true,” he said.

However, it wasn’t all flowers and rainbows for Kroslak, who arrived on campus in January and had limited time to get acclimated to college tennis before the season began.

“It’s so tough to come in in January,” Borendame acknowledged, “It usually takes them a full 2-3 months to get their feet underneath them, and for two weeks that guy didn’t even have a bed.”

“It took a while for him to adjust, but with the clincher, his confidence is going to go way up.”

Kroslak was tied 3-3 in the first set before he turned it on to win in straight sets, and he acknowledged his head coach for helping propel him to victory.

“I couldn’t hit my serve which has been my biggest weapon,” he said, “but I started to serve better in the second set.”

Before the second set, Borendame had some words of instruction for his talented freshman to help him settle down and lock in with his serve.”

“Jimmy just was trying to calm me down a little bit,” Kroslak explained, “telling me to enjoy it, and he told me to just toss the ball a little bit higher.”

That seemingly miniscule adjustment helped propel Kroslak to victory in straight sets and clinch another tournament championship.

Another one of the new pieces, grad-transfer Leo Raquin, came to MTSU specifically for moments like these, and he was able to see his goals come to fruition as the number one singles player on the Blue Raiders squad.

Leo Raquin won both his doubles and singles match on Sunday.
Leo Raquin won both his doubles and singles match on Sunday.

“It was my last semester and I wanted to win a championship and a ring,” Raquin said, “so that is why I came here [to MTSU].”

“I was a little stressed at first to be honest, but now I am very happy.”

Every single time Raquin won his singles match this season, Middle Tennessee won the match as  a team, just going to show how important he has been in his one season in Murfreesboro. 

After Sunday, the Blue Raiders are now 20-9 on the season and in prime position for a favorable NCAA Tournament regional matchup.

“Winning today just improved our ranking position for the NCAA Tournament, and we may now even be a possible two seed,” said Borendame.

This is good news for the Blue Raiders, who have a goal to make program history.

“Our theme for the year is TCOOS,” he explained, “No team in the history of the program has ever made the Round of 16, so we’ll take it one round at a time and see if we can get there.”

The Selection Show is this coming Monday evening, April 29, at 5:00 p.m. There will be a watch party at The Boulevard Bar & Grille with 15% of the proceeds going to the Student-Athlete Impact Fund.

Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders Men's Tennis, Liberty men