Men’s tennis team travels to IUPUI for match

Vince Lovergine, Men's Tennis Reporter

It has been a slow start to the season for the Eastern men’s tennis team.

Something that was a positive sign for the Panthers, however, is sophomore Freddie O’Brien. He earned the Panthers’ first win of the spring season against Ball State, but fell to the Cardinals 6-1.

While the Panthers head to IUPUI Friday, Freddie O’Brien at the No. 1 position last season against IUPUI, earned the only win for Eastern against former senior Jose Calero (6-4), (6-4).

Eastern coach Sam Kercheval was impressed with O’Brien during the match, and hopes he can duplicate that more this season.

“It was good for him and should give him some confidence going forward,” he said. “He has the tools, just has to put it together and be strong mentally.”

Doubles competition has been a stronger attribute for the Panthers. Despite losing three straight matches dating back to tournament action and the fall semester, O’Brien and Trent Reiman have five wins in 11 matches. But, in two matches this spring, O’Brien and Reiman have lost both matches.

O’Brien, being one of the younger players on the team, thinks his team can do a lot of good things this season and for his individual game. He said he has learned a lot from last year.

“Last year, I learned to be more patient and to try and stay in the point longer,” he said. “I have become more positive mentally and tried to find more inner belief. I think our team can do some good things this season if we stay focused and work hard, but I’m excited to see what happens.”

Last season’s match against the Jaguars  snapped the Panthers five-game winning streak dating back to 2004 against IUPUI, but the good news for Eastern is that they hold a 14-4 record against the Jaguars, which could propel the Panthers to its first win of the season.

So far this season IUPUI is 1-2, with its only win coming against Belmont, and its two losses coming at the hands of Michigan State and Dayton.

Coming into the match against IUPUI, the OVC preseason polls were released, and predicted Eastern would finish 6th and Tennessee Tech to finish first.

While conference play starts up in mid-March against Jacksonville State, Kercheval knows the polls do not mean much.

“It’s voted on by the coaches and it tells us the coaches in our conference don’t expect a lot from us in terms of results,” Kercheval said. “But it’s our job to prove them wrong,and we have to continue to put in the work because it’s a long time until conference starts.”

The match at IUPUI will be played at noon on Friday afternoon at the West Indy Racquet Club.

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