Men’s tennis team splits weekend matches

Vince Lovergine, Men's Tennis Reporter


Winding down an 11-game road trip, the Eastern men’s tennis team split its weekend matches against Valparaiso and St. Francis.

The Panthers traveled to Valparaiso on Friday, and they did not get the results they wanted. The Crusaders knocked off Eastern 7-0, giving them a 1-7 record on the season.

Valparaiso opened the match securing the doubles point, winning at No. 1 and No. 3.

Senior Jared Woodson and sophomore Gage Kingsmith lead their No. 2 doubles match 5-4, but the match was unfinished after the Crusaders claimed the point.
Valparaiso won five of the six points in straight sets. Playing at No. 1 singles, Freddie O’Brien had his five-match win streak snapped as he lost in the third set to Chad Kissell. Kissell won 4-6, 6-1, 10-2. That marks two years in a row where O’Brien fell just short in the third set of earning a win against Kissell.

Eastern head coach Sam Kercheval said the team had some chances, but just could not capitalize.

“Valparaiso was tough like we expected,” he said. “We left opportunities out there that we could have and maybe should have taken like a real chance to win the doubles point. There was some better tennis out there but not enough to get on the board.”

With the win, Valparaiso moved to 2-3 on the season.

As for Sunday’s match against Saint Francis, Eastern collected its second win of the season on Sunday afternoon as the Panthers beat the Fighting Saints 6-1, at the Danville Tennis Center.
The Panthers opened the match winning the doubles point. All three doubles matches ended in Eastern’s favor.
The Panthers would then win five of the six singles matches in straight sets. Freddie O’Brien won at No. 1 singles, beating Avilash Mishra 6-2, 7-5.

Ian Millan Vetokhin earned the only victory for Saint Francis at the No. 2 singles as Vetokhin defeated freshman Logan Charbonneau 6-4, 6-4 to give the Saints their first individual (non-default) win against an NCAA Division I opponent since 2016.

Senior brothers Grant and Trent Reiman picked up wins playing at No. 3 and No. 4 singles. Grant beat Lucas Navarro 6-1, 6-1 while Trent beat Mike Hasler 6-1, 6-2 to earn his first win of the spring schedule.
Sophomore Gage Kingsmith and senior Jared Woodson rounded out the Eastern singles wins at No. 5 and No. 6 singles play. Kingsmith won 6-1, 7-5. Woodson won 6-1, 6-1.

For senior Jared Woodson, he’s proud of all his teammates and hopes this continues on

“I think it’s good for us to be able to go for shots to build our confidence and still feel in control,” Woodson said. “I liked the way I was able to be aggressive and be confident but still feel a bit of pressure to overcome and get a win. It’s something the team will use and move forward with.”

In the weekend split, Eastern improved to 2-7 on the year, while Saint Francis fell to 3-2.

In this match, Kercheval loved his team’s performance and said that his team maintained a high level of play.

“There is no easy win in college tennis for us, so it was nice to get the team another (win),” Kercheval said. “Overall it was a good day, and I’m really pleased with the seniors. They’ve been through a lot of these matches and handled it well. It’s tricky to play a team and opponent where you are favored pretty heavily and maintain a very high level. But the seniors did that today, and it shows in their scores.”

Kercheval also said to St. Francis’ credit, they really improved since last year.

The Panthers prepare for the home stretch of this road trip, with North Central College on Friday and Southern Utah on Saturday.

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