Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Doubles play an important role in Warhawk tennis

Two heads are better than one, especially when it comes to tennis. One of the most interesting dynamics in college tennis is the use of doubles teams in match play.

Every matchup between two teams begins with three doubles matches, followed by six singles matches. In a best of nine format, winning or losing the first three games can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Mitch Osborne

“If you can come out of the doubles matches 3-0, it gives you so much momentum and you only need to win two of the six singles matches, which takes a lot of the pressure off of the other guys,” head coach Frank Barnes said. “But conversely if you come out 0-3, you face a real uphill battle.”

The No. 1 doubles team for the Warhawks is comprised of freshman Byron Balkin, and Bradley University transfer junior Mitch Osborne.

The duo is undefeated in doubles play this season and recently took down the No. 5 ranked doubles team in the region against Case Western University last weekend. 

If the pair manage to finish the regular season in the top four in the Central region, they will qualify for nationals.  The program has never had a doubles team qualify for nationals.

“All of our guys have a ton of singles experience, but sometimes it can take a year or two to pick up all of the nuances that doubles have,” Barnes said. “So Mitch has used his doubles experience to help mold Byron, who has a lot of talent but hasn’t played a lot of doubles.”

Byron Balkin

For Osborne and Balkin, they have enjoyed playing together and love their competition.

“In college pretty much all of the guys you play are great players but they might not be the best team … I think that’s where we thrive because we play so well together,” Osborne said.

Balkin said his enjoyment of doubles comes from being able to strategize with one’s partner

“[In] singles you go through the game alone and there isn’t someone there who can help you out or pump you up,” Balkin said.

Chemistry is huge.  Some players may have talent in singles play, but if they cannot coordinate with their teammate for doubles they will fall to the more cohesive teams. 

The key to Balkin and Osborne’s game is their ability to complement one another.

“Both guys are athletic and aggressive,” Barnes said.  “But Byron is very steady and makes good returns, and Mitch roams the net and puts shots away.”

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Founded 1901
Doubles play an important role in Warhawk tennis