Men’s tennis doubles pairings go 2-1 at home meet

Vince Lovergine, Men's Tennis Reporter

As the fall season ends next month, Eastern men’s tennis team hosted the Eastern Illinois Fall Invite over the weekend, and the team continued to produce results.

The Panthers played host of Lindenwood, Illinois-Springfield and Prairie State. The tournament featured four flights of singles play and three rounds of doubles competition.

All three of the Panthers’ top three doubles tandems posted a 2-1 record. Junior Freddie O’Brien and junior Gage Kingsmith played at No. 1 doubles. Newcomers Mike Jansen and Daniel Hernandez paired at No. 2 doubles, while Logan Charbonneau and Luka Knieling were the last team the Panthers sent out at No. 3 doubles team.

Eastern still has a couple months before the spring season begins, but O’Brien was pleased with the results.

“Overall it’s been a great tournament for us all, a good step in the right direction,” he said. “A lot of the guys picked up some nice wins, so that’s great. We have a long way to go but a good second tournament this semester.”

Eastern had similar success in singles action, having three players place in the finals of their flights before losing in the championship match. Transfer sophomore Daniel Hernandez continues to impress this fall season, reaching the championship of the Flight 2 singles.

Hernandez defeated Logan Burgess-Hayes of UIS in the opening round 4-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8. In the second round he beat Logan Orr of Lindenwood in three sets 4-6, 6-3, 10-2. But Hernandez ran out of gas, with Menno Servaes of Illinois-Springfield topping Hernandez in the finals 6-2, 6-2.

In flight three singles Gage Kingsmith also earned himself a trip to the finals before falling to Oscar Toro of UIS 6-4, 7-5. Kingsmith won his previous two matches to get to this point, after rolling past Natnael Fekadu of Prairie State in the opening round 6-4, 6-2 and then defeated Michael Lapsley of Illinois-Springfield in the second round 6-3, 4-6, 10-8.

Freshman Luka Knieling reached the finals of the flight four draw. Knieling won in straight sets in the opening round 6-0, 6-0. Knieling needed three sets to beat Azur Mujezinovic of Lindenwood in the second round, 6-3, 4-6, 10-5.  In the championship flight match, Juan Albin of Lindenwood won in three sets 4-6, 6-1, 11-9.

The Panthers have shown growth this fall season, and it seems the team is clicking well before the spring season starts, and that excites the players and coaches.

And Charbonneau is seeing that already.

“Luka is doing good and working hard. I know from experience that college doubles is a totally different game from juniors and learning it can be pretty tough,” Charbonneu said. “But he and the rest of the guys are handling things pretty well. I like seeing how the team is really starting to embrace the new coaches and our new era step by step. Coach Chris and Michael know how to make a winning team as you can see from their track record, so in terms of my game, I’m just trying to be a sponge and be as coachable as possible.”

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