Men’s tennis team finishes stellar year

Vince Lovergine, Men's Tennis Reporter

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Submitted Photo | The Daily Eastern News
The men’s tennis team and coaching staff celebrate the program’s first conference tournament win since 2002, after defeating Austin Peay 4-2 Friday in the quarterfinals of the OVC tournament.

Eastern’s men’s tennis team improved upon a 6-17 record from last year to having the most wins it has had in 24 years (14).

The Panthers reached the OVC tournament for the second consecutive year, and the story keeps getting better.

Eastern went up against No. 4 Austin Peay in Nashville where the Panthers eclipsed the Governors 4-2, which was the first win against Austin Peay in 11 matches.

The win was the Panthers’ first conference tournament win since 2002.

Unfortunately, the bad news hits, as the team was defeated by No. 1 Tennessee Tech 4-0 Saturday in the semifinals.

To put into words what the team has accomplished may be hard, but every single player on the team knew what it took to earn that conference win.

Interim director of tennis Chris Tolson started the season as the women’s coach, but eventually took over for the men as well, and based on what the team produced this year, he can’t wait for next year.

“I am very proud of the team and the effort they showed this year and weekend,” Tolson said. “We had an excellent year and hopefully it is something they see as a stepping stone into next year where we have everyone returning and have a chance to compete for a championship next year.”

Sophomore Daniel Hernandez won at No. 3 singles 7-5, 6-2, junior Gage Kingsmith won his No. 5 singles match 6-4, 7-6, and sophomore Logan Charbonneau also took home a win at No. 6 singles 7-5, 6-2.

The Panthers claimed the doubles point as Kingsmith and De Wilder earned the No. 2 doubles win, and Charbonneau and junior Freddie O’Brien won another match at No. 3 doubles.

Even though the season just ended, Charbonneau wants to get back at it.

“There’s a lot to be happy about from this season,” he said. “I’m proud of the guys and how we performed this year and in the playoffs, but I don’t want to be stuck in the past. With everyone coming back next year I feel more excited and hungry than anything at this point.”

Sophomore Mike Jansen performed in his first tournament as a Panther. While the results weren’t what he would’ve liked, he said this performance showed people a lot.

“It of course felt really good,” Jansen said. “It was a great team effort and shows how good we can be. It shows everyone that we are not the old EIU anymore, who are used to losing. I felt happy of course but it’s sad that I couldn’t play my best tennis this year. I will go back home, get healthy and in shape and as a team we will be even better next year.”

Eastern ends the season at 14-15, but junior Braden Davis knew the team was prepared hopes to continue this level of play with the team.

“It was a great feeling, after getting swept by them a couple of weeks ago, we just had a good focus before and during the match and I hope we are able to continue that focus going forward to go even further next year,” Davis said.

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