Skolik’s success story


Jason Howell

Senior Robert Skolik defeated Belmont’s Robin Demasse 7-5, 6-2 in singles play on April 1 at the Darling Courts. The Panthers were defeated 4-3.

Tyler McCluskey, Staff Reporter

For senior tennis player Robert Skolik, success has come a lot more recently than before. Skolik was undefeated with a six-match win streak going into last Saturday against Tennessee Tech and was undefeated in Ohio Valley Conference play.

But Skolik lost to Eduardo Mena to end his streak when they faced off at the No.1 spot.

“He was the best player I’ve played this year,” Skolik said. “He was rock solid form the baseline and had drop shots that could keep you off balance.”

That match was indoors. The Panthers have only played one home match this season. Skolik said he’s only played at home a handful of times in his four years at Eastern.

“It’s nothing new,” Skolik said. “It’s disappointing not to play in front of your friends.”

Skolik credits his experience and confidence for being so successful so far in OVC play.

“I’ve had a year of experience at the top of the lineup. I’ve got to understand what the top players of the conference are like,” Skolik said. “I trained all last year with that in mind. I think I’ve competed pretty well at that level last year.”

Winning six matches at the No.2 spot kept Skolik’s confidence high. With a record of 10-7 on the year, those matches are helping Skolik end the season on a high note.

“Previous years I had a decent record going into conference and this year I didn’t,” Skolik said. “I was second guessing myself, so to continually win really just kinda gave me confidence to finish through here even though we have only two matches left, I still feel like I’m about to peak with my tennis.”

Skolik’s partner in crime this season for doubles has been fellow senior Rui Silva. Their record together this season stands at 7-8 with a 4-1 record in OVC play.

“He’s one of my best friends so it’s nice to end it playing with him,” Skolik said. “We both really care about tennis; we both are passionate about the program. It’s nice to play at the top with him and see success there as well. It’s been a pretty fun experience.”

Skolik said the biggest struggle of the season has been the team’s consistency.

“It’s been tough. Everyone is very capable on our team, but we’ve had so many close matches where a couple guys show up and the other guys don’t show up,” Skolik said. “And the next day, it’ll be the opposite of that.”

The team has lost five 4-3 conference matches on the year. Skolik said it has been frustrating but knows the team is capable of competing with the top teams in the conference.

Skolik has not quite come to terms with the impending end of his career.

“It’s kinda hard to see it go so quickly. Four years doesn’t seem that long,” he said. “I think the fourth year is ending at the right time where I’ve done the tennis and now I’m ready for the next step of my life.”

Skolik said that his teammates are what he is going to miss the most with seeing them everyday.

Skolik said his first tennis coach when he was younger, Josh Whitman, is the reason he played at the age of 12 or 13. Skolik said that he saw Whitman’s passion; something that he said Eastern head coach Sam Kercheval has for tennis.

“It’s been kind of a full circle where I come back to someone who is passionate and young, who really enjoys tennis and sees improvement in their players.”

Another difference was the new coach. Kercheval is in his first year as head coach and Skolik has seen the differences from last year’s coach.

“There is so much more positive energy which is huge even when we’re losing we’re still getting encouraged,” Skolik said.

Skolik’s career record at Eastern is 35-33 overall and 17-16 in conference play. He holds a doubles record of 25-33 with a 14-13 record in conference. He will have two more matches this season.

Skolik said that he will continue to play tennis and join “the old-man leagues” when his career is over.


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