Men’s tennis set for final matches

Tyler McCluskey, Staff Reporter

The men’s tennis team is set head to Kentucky this weekend for its final two matches of the season.

On Friday, the Panthers (3-14) will take on Eastern Kentucky (16-11). Then on Saturday the Panthers will take on Morehead State (5-10).

The Panthers have an all-time record against the Colonels of 9-13. The team has only won one match of the last seven meetings. Last year, the Panthers defeated the Eagles 4-3 to snap a six-game losing streak. The Panthers are currently on a five-match losing streak.

Coach Sam Kercheval said that these last two matches represent opportunity.

“We have the opportunity to compete again and finish the season with some wins,” Kercheval said. “It won’t be easy because these teams are both good.”

The Panthers have an Ohio Valley Conference record of 1-6. Eastern Kentucky has an OVC record of 5-2, which is tied for second with Austin Peay. The Colonels have only lost to Tennessee Tech, which is undefeated in OVC, and Belmont. Both teams the Panthers have lost to, falling to Belmont, 4-3, and to Tennessee Tech, 6-1.

Morehead State sits tied at third in OVC with Jacksonville State and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 4-3. The Eagles have lost their last three matches in a row. They lost to Tennessee Tech, 6-1, fell to Jacksonville State, 5-2, and fell 5-2 to the Colonels. The Eagles will take on Southern Illinois-Edwardsville before facing the Panthers.

Only the top six teams make the OVC tournament. Eastern will not make the tournament this season, but that does not stop the Panthers’ preparations for this match. These matches are no different than any other matches, Kercheval said.

“We know it will be tough against two teams who are going to make the tourney,” Kercheval said. “But preparation is the same mentally, getting ready to battle, ready to compete and look to take another step in putting together on the court.”

For the seniors, these will be their last two matches in their career at Eastern. Kercheval said that the seniors and the team are hungry and want to end on a high note and get the win.

Senior Robert Skolik is undefeated at the No. 2 spot with a 6-0 record. His last loss came at the No. 1 spot against Tennessee Tech’s Eduardo Mena. His career record is 35-33 in singles play and 17-16 in conference. In doubles, his record sits at 25-33 with a conference record of 14-13. In his junior year, Skolik was named Second Team All-OVC with an 8-11 record.

Senior Ryan Henderson has a record of 26-31 in singles. In doubles, Henderson went 19-23 and had a record of 8-7 in OVC play. Henderson was named OVC Player of the Week earlier this year for the week of Feb 9. Henderson won both of his matches against Western Illinois and Saint Francis.

Senior Rui Silva’s record sits at 18-43 with an OVC record of 11-20. Silva’s doubles record sits at 26-28 with a 13-9 record in OVC. Both Silva and Skolik have led the team in doubles going 7-8 and 4-1 in OVC.

The Panthers take on Eastern Kentucky Friday at 1:30 p.m. and then take on Morehead State at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.


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