Women’s tennis team ready to welcome new coach

Blake Faith, Women's Tennis Reporter

The Eastern women’s tennis team is already making moves in order to further its program. 

Last week Eastern hired Chris Tolson as the women’s tennis coach. Tolson had previously coached for six seasons for the men’s and women’s tennis team at Arizona Christian University in Phoenix. 

“I chose to come to EIU because the way everything worked this summer it just became the right fit,” Tolson said. “I am coming into a program that has a great group of young ladies, are extremely talented and close to taking that next step forward in competing for Conference Championships. I like EIU’s Campus and small town feel, as I believe it is a place where I will have the opportunity to grow as a coach as well as make life long relationships here.”

Tolson was the first head coach at Arizona Christian, building both programs from the ground up and guiding both teams into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Top 25 rankings at different times in his coaching career.  

Last season Tolson led the men’s program to a 19-win season including advancing to the second round of the NAIA National Tournament.

Tolson takes over the coaching position from Sam Kercheval, who left both programs for Notre Dame. Players though were optimistic for the coaches future.

“I am excited for our new coach and think that he will be a good fit for our program. As for Sam leaving I’m excited for his opportunity,” junior Shelby Anderson said. “He was a positive coach over the past year and I wish him the best.”

Overall last year, the women’s tennis team finished 111-109 in overall play, and 40-57 in doubles. The team is looking though to improve overall in several aspects  The big goal is to qualify for the OVC  tournament and hopefully make a run to win the tournament.. 

“My expectations for the team are simply for our athletes to grow as tennis players and student athletes everyday,” Tolson said. “We have been middle of the pack in the conference the last few years and I would love to help this team and seniors take that next step to be one of the top teams in the conference. I want to see these ladies on the team enjoy the year and look back on it saying this was the best year at EIU so far.”

Sophomore Claire Martin had a similar thought to Anderson.

“I’m really excited that Chris Tolson has chosen to come to EIU to be our coach,” Martin said. “I’m looking forward to what he has to offer in terms of coaching, fitness and scheduling. I think in the fall we are looking to play good matches and get our fitness up, and I know Chris will know what we need and how it should be done.”

The women’s tennis season will begin Sept. 7 at the Southern Illinois Edwardsvile Fall Invite in Edwardsville.

Blake Faith can be reached at 51-2812 or [email protected]