Men’s tennis team ready for season


Sean Hastings

Eastern sophomore Freddie O’Brien returns a ball at a team practice in October. O’Brien had a 4-5 record in singles play for the Panthers last season.

Vince Lovergine, Men's Tennis Reporter

The Eastern Men’s Tennis team had its struggles over the course of last season, piling up only five wins in 24 matches.

An encouraging sign in the eyes of the Panthers is they won their last two matches of the season against Hanover and Illinois-Springfield.

Eastern coach Sam Kercheval said it was a good sign to finish on a high note with a couple wins because they’re returning most of their players this season.

“I don’t know that those two wins mean anything when it comes to expectations this year,” Kercheval said. “The development of our very young team throughout last year, the experience gained and the time together certainly are good things we will lean on as we head in to this season.”

Eastern was led by juniors, now seniors, Jared Woodson, Grant Reiman and Trent Reiman.

Trent Reiman and Woodson tied for second on the team in wins with six, trailing Marko Stefan Janjusic with 11 wins.

The Panthers opened their 2017 spring season with an 0-4 record, before earning their first win against St. Francis 7-0.

Eastern traveled to Indiana last season, and the Panthers fell short losing 7-0.

Indiana dominated in singles and doubles competition, as Eastern scored less than two points in eight of 12 matches.

In doubles competition it was more of the same, scoring more than three points just once in three matches.

In the Illinois State Fall Invitational this past fall season, Eastern had a nice performance from one of its younger players Freddie O’Brien, posting a 2-1 record in singles play opening the competition with a 6-2, 7-5 win.

At the seasons end a year ago, Kercheval noticed his players were buying in more and Kercheval sees that as an encouraging sign.

“I noticed in the last tournament that a couple of our underclassmen guys were starting to say and do some things that they hadn’t in the past,” Kercheval said, “That was really encouraging because it shows that they are mentally buying in more and more to how we are doing things and if they continue with that, they are putting themselves in a position to make a jump for themselves and this team.”

The Panthers return to Bloomington, Ind. to square off against Indiana, to open the spring season on an 11-game road trip.

Vince Lovergine can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]