Men’s tennis team wins both matches


File Photo

Jared Woodson jumps and returns a hit during a doubles match with partner Gage Kingsmith in the men’s tennis team’s 7-0 loss to Belmont at the Darling Courts in March of 2018.

Vince Lovergine, Men's Tennis Reporter

The four-match losing streak the Eastern men’s team suffered seems to be in the rear view mirror after a successful weekend.

The Panthers were poised to snap out of their funk, and they did in a big way, taking both matches this weekend.

Eastern topped Milliken in a “home” match at the Dodds Tennis Center in Champaign with a 6-1 win Friday, and the Panthers swept North Central College Saturday, 7-0, for the second consecutive season.

Looking at the bigger picture, Eastern has surpassed its win total from last year, improving to 8-8 on the spring season. Not to mention, the Panthers have their second-highest win total in a season since 2009.

Eastern had its way with Milliken, winning all three doubles matches to clinch the first point. Junior Freddie O’Brien and sophomore Logan Charbonneau notched a 6-1 win at No. 2 doubles, their 10th win as a double tandem.

Charbonneau has seen those improvements within himself and the team.

“For me it was just about being able to apply what the coaches have been telling me to do with my own game, as a team it was about not losing focus even if we’re up by a lot,” he said.

Charbonneau started things on the right foot for Eastern, winning the first point as he picked up a win due to retirement.

The rest of the way was smooth sailing for Eastern, clinching every singles point besides No. 5 singles, as Luka Knieling lost to Holden Owens, 2-6, 6-4, 8-10.

Sophomore Daniel Hernandez and O’Brien also won their singles matches at No. 3 and No. 1.

The same results duplicated against North Central College, where Eastern picked up win eight.

Once again Eastern picked up the doubles point, winning all three matches. Juniors Gretjan De Wilder and Gage Kingsmith, and O’Brien and Charbonneau, won their doubles matches at 6-2.

Everything else was smooth: Charbonneau won 6-0, 6-2 at No. 4 singles, Knieling won 6-0, 6-3 at No. 6 singles, Kingsmith earned another win at No. 3 singles, 7-6- 6-4, and No. 1 singles saw another win with O’Brien defeating Victor Krueger 7-5, 6-1.

Eastern Interim Director of Tennis Chris Tolson likes his team’s efforts but knows there’s still a long road ahead.

“We have set higher expectations for ourselves and where we want to go,” Tolson said. “We know it’s going to be difficult getting to where we want to be, which is OVC Champions, in the next couple of years. We have some talent on the team, but it’s a matter of convincing the guys they are talented enough to do this.  We will continue to work hard and hopefully finish above .500 on the year.”

And one guy whose seen his talents pay off is Gage Kingsmith, who wants to see more from himself in the future.

“We all came into the weekend ready to go,” he said. “After losing a couple in a row, we were all prepared to bring our best to the courts and play our best tennis, and everyone was able to go out and take care of business. It feels great to be past my win total and I look forward to getting some more wins very soon.”

Eastern now gears up for one match this weekend against Chicago State, a team the Panthers knocked off 5-2 last year.

The match begins Friday at 1 p.m.

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