A recipe for success has certainly set in for the Eastern men’s tennis team, but there is one blemish the team would like to forget.
Illinois State has been a tough nut to crack in recent memory, and the Redbirds showed why again, defeating the Panthers 6-1 Friday.
That now marks seven straight losses for Eastern against Illinois State, and it snapped Eastern’s previous five game streak.
Eastern picked up one point from freshman Cameron Slabbert at No. 6 singles (3-6), (6-4), (10-8). Junior Mike Jansen and senior Freddie O’Brien teamed up again as a doubles team and notched another win at No. 1 doubles, but they could not earn the doubles point.
Now getting the jitters out and competing in some matches, Slabbert couldn’t be more thrilled.
“It felt amazing and such an honor and privilege to play for and with some of the best friends I’ll ever have,” he said.
However, that loss to Illinois State was short lived as Eastern went to University of Illinois-Chicago Sunday and claimed a 4-3 win over the Flames.
Junior Daniel Hernandez played hero for the Panthers taking home a win, in three sets including a tie-breaker in the final set, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-1).
The Panthers jumped out to a 1-0 lead with O’Brien and Jansen winning 6-2 at No. 1 doubles while Hernandez and freshman Christos Kyrillou won 6-4 at No. 2 doubles.
That win for O’Brien and Jansen keeps them undefeated on the year at 4-0 as a pair in the No. 1 doubles slot.
O’Brien gave Eastern a 2-0 lead in the match with his win at No. 1 singles beating Johan Hedstrom 6-2, 6-4, which now puts him at 3-2 overall this spring at the No. 1 spot.
Something that O’Brien is working on is staying true to himself and being that key cog for the Panthers squad. And, his approach has helped.
“Been a great start for the team, always nice to get off to a good start,” O’Brien said. “Mentality wise I’ve tried to be more positive and enjoy the matches we play as of course it’s my last time grinding and fighting with the boys.”
Kyrillou playing at No. 4 singles gave Eastern a comfortable 3-1 lead with a three-set win 6-2, 1-6, 6-2.
But the Flames came roaring back at No. 5 and No. 6 singles wins, where Logan Charbonneau dropped the two-set match 6-1, 6-1 and Slabbert lost the No. 6 singles position due to retirement.
Vince Lovergine can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]