WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Freshman Ali Mooraj made his college debut last weekend at the Purdue Fall Invitational, earning a meaningful win in his opening match. Despite a slow start, the Karachi, Pakistan native defeated Benjamin Slade of Cleveland State in strait sets 7-5, 6-4.
“I was down early in that first set, but I was confident it my approach,” Mooraj said. “I was able to make enough balls to break him down and that’s when he started missing.”
I took an early lead in the second, and held on to what ended up being a close set and match.”
With the victory, Mooraj continued a trend from last season of Purdue freshman winning their opening match. Current sophomore Athell Bennett defeated three-straight opponents during the same tournament in 2016, making it to the finals of the Flight A draw. Additionally, Stephan Koenigsfest, an early enrollee last January, defeated back-to-back SEC opponents at the 2017 ITA Kickoff Weekend in Athens, Ga. to begin his career as a Boilermaker.
Mooraj struggled to carry his early success through the remainder of the tournament, though, loosing his next two matches.
“My contest in the second round was a close one,” Mooraj said. “I picked up the first set, but [Li] was able to force a third. There were lots of long points, deuce points; I just came up short in the end.”
The preferred walk on paired with senior Renan Hanayama in doubles, the only other Purdue men’s tennis player competing in the home tournament.
The duo went 2-3 with wins over pairing from Bucknell and Marquette.
“I had a lot of fun competing with Renan,” Mooraj said. He’s a very energetic player and he forced me to stay competitive even towards the end of the tournament.”
The three-day event concluded on Sunday, with Hanayama posting one singles victory over Luis Heredia of Marquette 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
The Boilermakers are off this week as three prepare for the ITA Men's All-American Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, beginning Sept. 30.