Men’s tennis team opens season on road

Parker Valentine, Tennis Reporter

The Panthers are headed to the suburbs of Chicago Friday, for the River Forest Collegiate Invitational.

The event is free of charge and will take place at the River Forest Tennis Club, as well as the Oak Park Country club and Tennis center.

Fall invitationals are friendly, yet competitive events that give student athletes a chance to hone in on their skills and face competition they will see again in the spring.

The River Forest invite consists of eight teams, including Eastern, that will face each other in a random bracket-style tournament.

The other teams in attendance are Marquette, Northern, St. Louis, Detroit Mercy, Illinois-Chicago, Valparaiso, and Youngstown State.

Eastern has a bit of history with these Universities. They played more than half of the opposing teams last spring in coach Sam Kercheval’s second season with the Panthers.

“Our expectations are to keep things simple,” Kercheval said. “We all have to stay humble and hungry no matter what happens.”

Of the teams in attendance, the Panthers found the most success last season against UIC.

Sophomore Freddie O’Brien tallied a win against graduate Carl Hedstrom in three sets (6-2, 6-7, 10-7) and sophomore Marko Janjusic defeated William Wale (6-3, 6-3).

The other teams Eastern has previous experience against are St. Louis, Detroit, and Valparaiso.

The Panthers come into the weekend tournament with three seniors, all of whom will begin their final season with the Panthers.

Seniors Grant Reiman, Trent Reiman, and Jared Woodson will be looking to build off of last season, as well as lead the less experienced athletes on the team.

Although six of the Panthers’ nine athletes are either freshmen or sophomores, coach Kercheval expects his younger athletes to step up in to leadership roles as well.

“We have three great seniors this year who have done a good job showing how things are done in our program, but I always challenge everyone to embrace a leadership role regardless of their class,” Kercheval said.

This event is the first of four fall matches for the Panthers. After two weeks off, the men’s and women’s tennis teams will be back in Charleston to host their annual Alumni matches at the Darling courts.

They will be back in competitive action a week after that, heading to Indiana for the Valparaiso fall invite. The Panthers finish their fall season in Normal, for the Illinois State fall invitational.

Parker Valentine can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]