Former opponents join forces to play doubles for Ball State men’s tennis

Ball State tennis players Lucas Andersen and Andrew Stutz play against Eastern Illinois players Freddie O’Brien and Gage Kingsmith in the match on Jan. 22 at Muncie’s Northwest YMCA. The Cardinals won 6-2. Grace Ramey, DN

Senior men’s tennis players Lucas Andersen and Andrew Stutz go way back.

Before stepping onto college tennis courts as Ball State’s No. 1 doubles team, the two played against each other.

“For the first time, our high schools (Center Grove and North Central) faced each other,” Andersen said. “I won against Stutz. Center Grove had lost the match, though.”

The par started playing doubles together last season, when they went 22-10. This last fall, they finished third at the Mid-American Conference Indoor Championships.

The duo have played with each other in 51 doubles matches over two years, which Stutz said built strong chemistry.

“I know where he is going to be on the court and he knows where I’m going to be,” Stutz said. “If we play close to our best, then we are pretty confident that we can beat most teams.”

Anderson said their playing styles feed off of each other.

“We have different strengths and weaknesses that make up for the other areas we are lacking,” Andersen said.  “Stutz has very good returns and I tend to have more movement at the net and bigger serves.”

This season, Andersen and Stutz are 3-1 against Mid-American Conference opponents and 11-8 overall. The duo’s all-time record is 33-18.

“To have a winning record at number one doubles is always tough,” Andersen said. “You are always going to have a hard match against talented teams.”

It doesn’t make the losses any easier, though. Stutz and Andersen are both competitive and expect to win every match.

“But we play every match at number one doubles.  During the season, we have played a lot of Big 10 and other top five conferences schools,” Stutz said.  “I would take that record any day.”

With the doubles point awarded first in doubles match, Andersen and Stutz have an important role. If they win.

“Because a lot of times, if you lose a doubles point, you are even more motivated to come out strong in singles,” Stutz said. “No matter if you win or lose the doubles point, just act like it’s a new match and go in.

On the courts, the duo’s playing style and personality balance each other out.

“Luke is just a bubble of positivity all the time and I get down on myself,” Stutz said. “We kind of Yin-and-Yang each other.”

In the end, Andersen said it has been a good partnership for the duo.

“We have enjoyed a lot success,” Andersen said. “We  would like to end it on a roll and win our last four matches together going into MAC tournament.”

They’ve come a long way from playing against each other in high school, like when Stutz beat Andersen at the Midwest Regionals at North Central.

“Luke would claim that he was injured, but I just mopped him and took him to the cleaners and destroyed him,” Stutz said. “He might beat me now, but I always have that win.”

The duo’s last conference matches are against Buffalo and Binghamton this weekend in New York.

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