Men’s tennis team set for two matches this weekend

Tyler McCluskey, Staff Reporter

The Eastern men’s tennis team is getting set for two matches this weekend. Their first will be against Valparaiso on Friday, and their second will be against Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Sunday.

The Panthers main focus for these two matchups will be the mental aspect of the game and keep to focus at the task at hand.

“We will know whether we are mentally tough by what we say and how we carry ourselves throughout the entirety of the weekend,” coach Kercheval said. “It’s not about being mentally tough some of the time, it has to be for the whole match.”

Senior Robert Skolik said it is easier said than done.

“It’s something you have to make a conscious effort every time you play and every ball you hit you always have to be reminding yourself what you’re trying to improve on and I think that’s the biggest part of the mental aspect,” Skolik said.

Other than the mental aspect, Kercheval said that their opponents have been putting pressure on the team’s serves.

“We are working to improve and make them feel the same amount of pressure by getting more returns in play and being able to attack off the return,” Kercheval said.

The Panthers (2-4) are coming off a 1-6 loss to the University of Illinois-Chicago. The team kept it close in their matches, but could not come away with a victory.

Senior Ryan Henderson won his fourth straight singles match against the Flames’ Andy Page 7-5, 6-1. Skolik lost to Carl Hedstrom 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Senior Rui Silva lost 1-6, 7-5, 10-2 against Christopher Cole. Freshman Ognjen Jevtic lost 6-2, 6-4 to Mitch Granger. Sophomore Grant Reiman was defeated by Marcelo Dib, 6-4, 6-1. Sophomore Jared Woodson lost 6-0 and 6-0 to Max Cederkall.

The Panthers were swept in doubles with Skolik and Silva losing 6-3 to Granger and Cole. Henderson and Jevtic were defeated 6-2 to Dib and Hedstrom. Reiman and senior Jacob Wendel lost to Page and Nate Campanile 7-6.

The Panthers saw both teams earlier in the fall season and they know more about these teams than others they have faced.

“They are both very both strong opponents and have been playing well up and down their lineup,” Kercheval said.

For Valparaiso, they lost to Louisville 4-3 and suffered the same fate to Purdue, losing 4-3. The Crusaders will be taking on Western Illinois right before they take on the Panthers.

On the mental aspect from the past matchups, Kercheval said that the team needs to let the matches from the fall go and play without any preconceived notions about how this match might go.

“They are a different team since the fall but so are we, and we need to come out and show it,” Kerchval said.

SIUC (3-1) is on a three-game win streak, having beaten Northern Illinois, Mercer, and Eastern Kentucky. Their only loss came against Tennessee. They will be facing UIC the day before.

The Panthers will take on Valparaiso on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Valparaiso, Indiana and on Sunday they will take on SIUC in Carbondale, Illinois at 11 a.m.


Tyler McCluskey can be reached at [email protected]