Eastern 5-seed in Ohio Valley Conference tournament

Vince Lovergine, Men's Tennis Reporter

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This weekend will tell all, as the Eastern men’s tennis team gears up for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

Mike Jansen winds up to return his opponents’ hit in his singles match during Eastern’s 6-1 loss to Jacksonville State March 22 at the Darling Courts.

Dillan Schorfheide
Mike Jansen winds up to return his opponents’ hit in his singles match during Eastern’s 6-1 loss to Jacksonville State March 22 at the Darling Courts.

It’s been finalized that Eastern, the No. 5 seed, will play No. 4 seed Austin Peay in the first round Friday at 2 pm.

The Panthers reached the tournament for the second consecutive season, looking to advance even further this year.

Eastern was knocked out by Jacksonville State last year in the first round 4-0, but this year’s tournament might have a different outcome.

The Panthers finished the season 13-14, compared to 6-17 last season. Eastern lost three seniors but added four newcomers this upcoming season, who have provided more than the Panthers expected.

Mike Jansen, Daniel Hernandez, Luka Knieling and Gretjan De Wilder have all combined for 32 singles wins this spring, with Hernandez leading the pack with 12 wins and Jansen trailing him with nine.

For the newcomers it is the first time competing in the tournament, and Mike Jansen couldn’t be more thrilled.

“I’m extremely excited to play in my first conference tournament and hopefully we can finally show the rest and ourselves how good we can be,” Jansen said. “If we all compete like we can we have a good chance against every single team. For myself, I hope I can play a couple of decent matches even though my wrist is still really injured.”

But there are others who know what to expect for the tournament, including juniors Freddie O’Brien, Gage Kingsmith and Braden Davis, and sophomore Logan Charbonneau.

Charbonneau specifically knows that anything can happen at any time.

“For me I’ve always known that anything can happen at a tournament with this much riding on the line, so I don’t like having any preconceived notions on how things should happen,” he said. “The best thing is to control what I can control.”

Kingsmith, who had four wins this spring season, thinks the team can produce some results in the tournament.

“It will be a great opportunity for the team. Even through a lot of change, we’ve done well and now we’re ready to compete our best in the tournament,” Kingsmith said. “I’m hopeful we can do well.”

For Davis, even though he didn’t compete in the tournament last year, he said nothing should change, and the team should be ready.

“Honestly the approach isn’t any different,” he said. “Just have to go with it with the same mindset as any other match and have to treat it as such otherwise the pressure can tighten people up.”

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