The argument that less can, in fact, equate to more might consider using Ball State tennis player Luke Andersen as its primary example.
Standing 6-foot-2, Andersen at 175 pounds is 22 pounds lighter than he was as a senior at Center Grove High School during the 2012-13 school year.
There’s no disputing the results. Andersen is 17-4 in singles play in dual matches with a 4-0 record against league opposition. Last week he was voted Second Team All-Mid-American Conference by the league’s coaches.
“He has exceeded my expectations. I was very confident he would be a key contributor for us, but if you look at Luke’s numbers, it’s pretty impressive,” 42nd-year BSU head coach Bill Richards said.
“Luke is a very good athlete with very good hands, but he wasn’t blessed with the quickest feet. We encouraged (the weight loss), but he really did it on his own. It has really helped his stamina and court coverage.”
Andersen’s outstanding high school career included finishing third in the state singles finals as a junior and leading the Trojans to the team finals as a senior.
However, to make an immediate impact for Richards’ program, one notable change had to be made.
“There is a huge difference between high school and college tennis. Here, that’s their only sport, and the competition is better. Everyone has the same goal,” Andersen said.
“It was about better conditioning and just eating better. Whatever I used to eat, I ate a lot of it, so I just cut back on that. It was hard to do at first, but once you see the results ... it took me about three months to get down to this weight.”
The No. 3 seed at the recent MAC Tournament, host Ball State scored a 4-3 victory against fourth-seeded Buffalo in the championship match for the program’s 22nd title.
Andersen’s three-set singles triumph provided the Cardinals the clinching point.
Next up for Ball State is Friday’s match at 12th-ranked Illinois in the first round of the NCAA Championships.
It marks the second time this season the Cardinals and Illini will meet. Illinois blanked BSU, 4-0, at an event at the University of Indianapolis on March 23.
Neither Andersen’s No. 3 singles match or his teaming with freshman Matt Helm at No. 3 doubles would be factored into the final tally.
“I’m really excited about playing Illinois again. We played them earlier, and I was winning my (singles) match, 6-4, 2-1, when the match was stopped,” Andersen said.
Ball State has momentum in its corner having won five consecutive matches for a 14-10 record.
Regardless how the Cardinals fare in Champaign, Andersen has left his imprint and then some with three seasons of athletic eligibility still remaining.
“Coming to college, the freedom was definitely a big change and making out your own schedule,” Andersen said. “And coach Richards is more of a hands-off coach, which forces you to grow up a little bit. But he’s a great coach. His motto is all about having toughness on the court, fighting every point and not backing down.”
Now 66, Richards, a Sturgis, Michigan, native who took over BSU’s men’s tennis fortunes in 1973 and has been named MAC Coach of the Year a staggering 15 times, is quick to return the compliment.
Richards can advise, but it’s up to the individual to produce results from motivation.
“Luke is an incredibly hard worker and so mature for his age,” Richards said. “He’s got a lot of intangibles that have helped him get to where he is. Luke never gets too high or too low during a match. He’s just very steady.”