Men’s tennis falls twice this weekend

Tyler McCluskey, Staff Reporter

The Eastern men’s tennis team dropped two conference matches this weekend.

The Panthers (3-12) had two close matches, each coming down to a third and final set, against Belmont and Tennessee State. The Panthers lost both matches 4-3. Their record sits at 1-4 in Ohio Valley Conference play.

In the second set of senior Robert Skolik’s match against Belmont’s Robin Demasse, Skolik was ready and waiting for Demasse to serve and then return for match point. Even after Demasse questioned a couple of Skolik’s calls, Demasse served and Skolik returned. After a couple more volleys back and forth, Skolik hit the ball down the line with his forehand. Demasse backhanded it coming up short. Skolick earned his fourth straight match victory winning 7-5, 6-2 at the No.2 position.

“(Demasse) was a competitive guy, he kept pumping himself up even though he was losing, so I knew he was going to fight,” Skolik said. “(Demasse) was getting chippy at the end where he was questioning my calls, and I knew I had to keep playing steady and not let him get into my head. So I just buckled down and told myself to keep pushing and it finally ended up where I got the match point.”

Coach Sam Kercheval said Belmont was a loud and boisterous team throughout, even during the women’s match.

“From day one we have said ‘control what you can control’, you can’t control how your opponent plays, acts, talks, the crowd, the wind and a lot of things we experienced,” Kercheval said. “Rob did a good job just playing the game, and he really dominated that match from start to end.”

Another key victory for the Panthers was from sophomore Grant Reiman at the No. 3 spot. He defeated Adam Rudowski 6-2, 6-4. Grant Reiman was attacking the net to finish out.

“The win for Grant might be the biggest of his career,” Kercheval said. “He came forward more than usual because it’s what we had to do. (Rudowski) was crafty and didn’t hit a big ball and combined with the wind which slowed everything down, we had lots of opportunity to move forward and finish points.”

The match came down to senior Rui Silva’s third set against Zak Khan. In which ultimately he lost 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

“Rui knew it was coming down to him and before I said anything he was already in a good frame of mind,” Kercheval said. “There were a couple of small tactical points we talked about but by the third set you usually know the game plan and then it is about execution.”

Sophomore Trent Reiman finished the day with a victory over Toby Nicholson 6-2, 7-5. Freshman Ognjen Jevtic lost to Bruno Russo 6-3, 6-2. Senior Ryan Henderson lost 6-2, 6-4 against Cedric Dujacquier.

For doubles, Henderson and Jevtic lost 6-2 to Khan and Caio Neil. The Reiman brothers lost 6-1 to Russo and Rudowski. Skolik and Silva went unfinished against Demasse and Dujacquier.

Wind was another major factor in the match. At some points, the ball would either hang in the air and land on the same side or it would end up being long.

“Weather was certainly a big factor because the wind was some of the strongest I’ve ever experienced,” Kercheval said.

Saturdays match against Tennessee State was moved indoors to the Danville Tennis Center because of the weather.

The Panthers suffered their first loss to the Tigers all-time after being 17-0.

The Panthers started strong winning the doubles point. The Reiman brothers won 6-3 over Jorge Rodriguez and Shashank Nautiyal. Silva and Skolik defeated Amir Daniel and Daniel Bernal 6-3.

Grant Reiman and Silva’s matches went to three sets. Grant Reiman lost to Rodriguez 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3. Silva was defeated by Kyle Burton 6-0, 4-6, 6-2.

Skolik won 6-3, 6-2 over Nautiyal. That is Skolik’s fifth straight singles match victory. Jevtic beat Daniel 6-2, 6-2.

Henderson lost 6-1, 6-4 against Bernal. Trent lost to Grant Maddox 6-3, 6-4.

Next up for the Panthers are a couple of home matches against Jacksonville State on Friday April 8 at 10 a.m. and then on Saturday against Tennessee Tech at 11 a.m.


Tyler McCluskey can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].