Eastern men’s tennis team wins two of three matches over weekend


The Daily Eastern News

Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News Gage Kingsmith lunges to return a hit in a doubles match during the men’s tennis team’s 6-1 loss to Jacksonville State March 22 at the Darling Courts.

Vince Lovergine, Men's Tennis Reporter

Usually it will take a couple of years for a new head coach to turn things around, but that is not the case for the Eastern men’s tennis team.

Interim director of tennis Chris Tolson has changed the landscape of Eastern men’s tennis in just one season.

Last year, the Panthers finished with six wins; now, the team has 13. A big part in this revolution is Tolson knows what it takes to win, some of the players said.

Plus, the team has more depth than they had in quite some time.

The Panthers are an even 13-13 on the year, and those 13 wins are the most the program has seen since they won 13 in back-to-back years in 2007 and 2008.

The weekend was an indication that Eastern has improved. The Panthers had three matches over the weekend, and the only downfall was its loss to conference foe Belmont 4-1 Friday.

The loss to Belmont drops Eastern to 0-3 in conference action.

The wins came in the matches Saturday against Tennessee State and Martin Methodist College.

Eastern defeated the Tigers 4-0 and the Redhawks 5-3.

Coming into the match, sophomore Mike Jansen was uncertain if he’d be able to play again this season with a cyst on his wrist. But, Jansen ended up playing and got some wins in the process.

Jansen and junior Gretjan De Wilder won at No. 1 doubles against Tennessee State 6-3, and Jansen clinched a win at No. 2 singles 7-6, 6-4.

Jansen said he is working through the pain from his wrist.

“Even though I’m not able to practice at all and I’m just playing matches, I step on court expecting myself to find a way to win,” he said. “This weekend showed that tennis is not only about hitting the most winners, but that even without a serve or forehand there are ways to win, in both singles and doubles.”

Jansen said he still is getting surgery on his wrist when he returns to his hometown in the Netherlands.

Sophomore Daniel Hernandez and junior Gage Kingsmith also earned a win at No. 2 doubles 6-2, and sophomore Logan Charbonneau and junior Freddie O’Brien keep their dominance going with another win at No. 3 doubles, 6-0.

O’Brien also clinched the win over Tennessee State at No. 1 singles 6-2, 6-1 and Hernandez also won at No. 3 singles 6-4, 6-2.

In Friday’s match with Belmont, O’Brien won 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 singles, defeating the defending OVC Male Player of the Year Hendrik Inno.

In its match against Martin Methodist, Eastern played by NAIA rules with each doubles match counting as one point.

The Panthers notched two of the three doubles points with Jansen and freshman Luka Knieling winning 8-3 at No. 2 doubles. Junior Braden Davis, who returned from a broken finger, and Kingsmith paired to win 9-7 at No. 3 doubles.

In singles play, O’Brien won another No. 1 match 6-0, 6-0. Martin Methodist tied the match with two singles victories, but De Wilder and Charbonneau both won at No. 4 and No. 5 singles to close out the match.

While it was a productive weekend for the team, Kingsmith wants to keep this play going.

“We prepared well all week, and were ready on Friday to compete our best,” he said. “Everyone was focused on their match and shared great energy through every match. Overall, I’m very happy for the team and looking forward to this weekend.”

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