Men’s tennis players excited for future of team

Tyler McCluskey, Staff Reporter

Senior Rui Silva returns the ball during his match against Belmont's Zak Khan on Saturday, April 1 at the Darling Courts. Silva lost to Khan 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Lauren McQueen
Senior Rui Silva returns the ball during his match against Belmont’s Zak Khan on Saturday, April 1 at the Darling Courts. Silva lost to Khan 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

The men’s tennis team will be losing three seniors for next season, Ryan Henderson, Rui Silva, and Robert Skolik, but will bring back a young team with sophomores Trent and Grant Reiman, Jared Woodson, and freshman Ognjen Jevtic.

Grant had a season record of 5-14 and went 3-6 in Ohio Valley Conference play. Trent had a 3-10 record on the year with an OVC record of 3-6. Both paired up most of the year in doubles play, the twins had a 4-7 record.

Woodson had a record of 2-5 and had only one OVC match in which he lost to Jack Desse of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 6-4, 6-1. He had a 2-4 record in doubles with wins coming along with Henderson and Grant.

Jevtic had a strong showing in his first year of collegiate tennis boasting an overall record of 6-11 with a 305 record in OVC. Jevtic was mostly paired with Henderson in doubles; together they had a 3-7 record.

One of the things that Skolik saw in the young guys on the team is their belief.

“Last year they didn’t know where they fit in and now they are realizing they are right with the best,” Skolik said.

Skolik said in the future the team can expect a lot more close matches from the younger guys because of their desire to win and from the experience they have earned this season.

Coach Sam Kercheval says that with the returning players, he expects them to be leaders, especially to the new players coming into the program.

“I expect everyone to come in and be a leader in some aspect from the very beginning,” Kercheval said. “As for their contribution on the court, (the expectation) is they put in the necessary work over the summer so when we return in the fall we can pick up where we left off at the end of the season.”

Kercheval said the roster is not completely set with incoming players but hopes to bring in four or five players. That means that half of the team will be new players, and Kercheval said that the leadership roles from the existing players is important.

“With three starters leaving, it’s possible we could have a number of new guys in the lineup right away,” Kercheval said. “Their contribution to the program will be in large part the energy and desire they bring as well as their actual on court skills.”

Silva said that the current team is full of respectful players and have a different kind of culture than most teams.

“We manage to be competitive but sustain our values 100% of the time and that’s a culture we want to leave for future players to learn,” Silva said.

Kercheval said there are two goals that the team will focus on the most next season. The first goal is to keep working on that team culture and creating a positive environment for the players to thrive in.

“We have a good culture right now but it is something we must continue to work on,” Kercheval said. “With all the new guys coming in, it will be important than we get them up to speed and all put great effort into coming together as a team.”

Kercheval said that the second goal is to win each day. He said that the team was not going to set any goals relating to winning a number of matches, but to how the team handles themselves outside of the court.

“Every day at practice, weights, conditioning and competition needs to have great focus and effort to make sure we maximize our potential,” Kercheval said. “If we get the culture right and we ‘Win the Day” then the results will take care of themselves.”


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