Roberts playing well for the ASU Sun Devils
Bahamian collegiate tennis player Justin Roberts and the Arizona State University (ASU) Sun Devils men’s tennis team finished up their road trip on a high note on Sunday, defeating the Indiana Hoosiers, 4-2, at the IU (Indiana University) Tennis Center, in Bloomington, Indiana, USA. The win came just a couple days after they fell to No. 2 Ohio State, 6-1, at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center, in Columbus, Ohio.
For Roberts, the 22-year-old graduate transfer from the University of South Florida (USF) is playing some of his best tennis.
In men’s singles, he took down the number 12 player in the country on Friday, defeating Kyle Seeling, 7-6, 0-6 and 1-0(8), to secure the Sun Devils’ only victory of that match-up. Roberts came right back on Sunday, and was leading his match against junior Zac Brodney up until it was stopped. Roberts was ahead, 7-5, 4-6 and 5-4 when the match was stopped due to the Sun Devils clinching the team win.
“Justin was obviously frustrated he didn’t get to finish his match, but he played great,” said team Head Coach Matt Hill on the team’s website. “He did a nice job with some small adjustments in the third set tactically and stayed the course by making smart serve choices to have his opponent guessing. I’m super proud of Justin.”
Regarding his victory over the nation’s 12th ranked player, Hill said it was inspiring for the young Bahamian.
“Justin had a little bit of a slow start to the season, but that was a great match for him. He looked really good and he’ll only progress from here,” Hill said.
The Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA) also sent out its congratulations to Roberts.
“Justin continues to amaze on the college tennis circuit,” read a BLTA statement. “The BLTA wishes him continued success as he achieves new feats.”
Against Ohio State, Roberts and doubles partner Makey Rakotomalala lost to the tandem of JJ Wolf and Martin Joyce, 6-2. Ohio State has won the Big Ten title in 12 of the past 13 seasons, and made the finals of the national championships last year.
Against Indiana, he and Rakotomalala defeated the team of Brandon Lam and Patrick Fletchall, 6-4, in a little over 30 minutes.
“I was really, really pleased with the way we handled the doubles,” Hill said. “We started off a little slow, but the resiliency of the guys, the way they stayed the course to make a couple adjustments to start playing better was impressive.”
The win for Roberts and Rakotomalala was their fourth of the season, a team-best.
With the team win over the Indiana Hoosiers, the Arizona State Sun Devils improved to a 3-4 win-loss record on the season.
“The guys are really moving in the right direction,” said Hill on the team’s website. “It’s clear to us as coaches how much they’re progressing, and tonight (last night) was really good confirmation for the guys themselves as well.”
Roberts was recently recognized for his comeback in the sporting discipline of tennis after a serious injury. He was awarded with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Leevan Sands Courage Award at the National Sports Awards in December 2018.
The Sun Devils have the week off and are back in action the weekend of February 22. The squad travels to College Station, Texas, for a match-up against Texas A&M University. The following Sunday, the team heads back to Tempe, Arizona, for a home match against the University of San Diego Toreros. Fans can keep up with the action all season long by following the team on their Twitter handle @SunDevilMTennis on Twitter.