Men’s tennis team passes win total from last season


File Photo

Freddie O’Brien returns a hit during the Eastern men’s tennis team’s 7-0 loss at the Darling Courts against Belmont in March of 2018.

Vince Lovergine, Men's Tennis Reporter

Since the start of 2016 spring season, the Eastern men’s tennis team had four wins, and ever since they’ve had added one win from the previous season.

Fast forward to 2019, and the Panthers have already tied its win total from last season, just 10 matches into this year.

Eastern currently stands at 6-4 on the campaign after another successful weekend winning three of five matches.

The Panthers downed Illinois Wesleyan 9-0 and overcame a 10-year losing streak to Wright State defeating them 4-2, while also topping Saint Francis in a 7-0 sweep.

It has been a completely different season for Eastern in large part after  head coach Chris Tolson and assistant coach Mike Munguia took over the throne.

“I think the culture is beginning to change here for EIU Tennis,” Tolson said. “We are going to focus on holding each other accountable for our actions on and off court. There are now expectations in which everyone is expected to compete hard and believe they can win.”

With those expectations from Tolson, he said there’s still things that need some improvement.

“Our focus for this weekend is to continue to grow as a team,” he said. “We need to continue to work on doubles and have that become a consistent EIU point every match. Other thing we need to improve on is coming out quicker in our singles matches with energy and keeping the pressure on our opponents.”

One player for Eastern who has seen his matches increase is junior Braden Davis, who is one win away from tying his win mark from last season, and he says that all has to do with the coaches.

“I’ve believed in him (Tolson) because he always says that he wouldn’t play someone in a certain spot if he didn’t think they would be able to produce and get the win there,” Davis said. “Also, it just helps me play more relaxed with the support of the team and the energy that everyone gives each other whether they are playing on the court as well or just cheering someone on from the sidelines.”

And those results keep showing up, with junior Freddie O’Brien posting three singles wins at the No. 1 singles, cinching the win against Wright State and earning two wins as a doubles team with sophomore Logan Charbonneau.

Charbonneau, on the other hand, has enjoyed his successful season, picking up two more singles wins and notching three doubles wins with O’Brien.

“Freddie and I have a good rhythm going, and it helps that we know each other’s game so well,” Charbonneau said. “We can practically guess what each other’s going do before it happens.”

The results may be favoring the upperclassmen, but sophomore Mike Jansen continues to produce for this men’s team, also racking up three singles wins this past weekend, and sophomore Daniel Hernandez and Jansen are a dominate force as a team, winning three doubles matches as well.

Jansen said he is not satisfied because he believes the team can do so much more.

“It’s great that we already have the same amount of wins, but we can do much more,” he said. “I think the reason we are successful, and I’m successful in my own matches, is that it’s all team effort. Even though some guys might not be playing or already done, they will be cheering you on during your bad and good matches. Next to this, we have a great team with Chris and Michael as coaches, which helps us develop in our training sessions.”

It’s been a season the Panthers are enjoying for sure, but before the season, the team’s goal was to win the conference championship.

Eastern continues its long trip with Valparaiso Friday at three and University of Illinois at Chicago Sunday at one.

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