The season is still young, but it can be said that the Eastern men’s tennis team has come back to reality.
Eastern started the year 5-0, its best start since 1983. The Panthers have lost 3 of their last 5 matches, pushing them to 7-3 overall.
The weekend started strong with Illinois Tech, the Panthers swept the match 7-0. It was definitely a different look for Eastern but it was a well-oiled machine.
Four freshman earned wins in singles. Including Pau Riera getting his first No. 1 singles win, 6-0, 6-2.
Juan Carlos Garrido an Thomas Wallace earned No. 2 and No. 3 singles wins, and Max Pilipovic-Kljojic getting his second No. 4 singles in this year.
Senior Gertjan De Wilder got over the .500 mark in No. 5 singles victory moving to 2-1 and senior Braden Davis remain undefeated at No. 6 singles at 2-0.
Davis may not be getting much time on the court, but its all about being ready to go.
“It’s just about the preparation during the week and always being ready to play in a match when its time,” he said.
That’s when the wheels on the bus started falling off as Eastern has lost two matches in row after its loss to Ball State Sunday. Not to mention, it’s the Panthers first losing streak of the campaign.
Eastern only managed to notch two points in its matches with North Dakota and the Cardinals.
Both losses came in 6-1 fashion. Ball State continues to be the Panthers worst nightmare as their losing streak to the Cardinals is now 10.
Head coach Chris Tolson said he’s not worried where the team is despite the recent losses.
“The guys have been battling and are doing great,” he said. “We have lost a few matches but if you look at the matches, we have several three-set matches, close tie break sets. So, I am not worried about the losses as we are competing well against tough competition. Hopefully over the next month we learn how to play the critical points with more confidence and belief which will push us to the next level where we are competing with the top teams in the OVC.”
Eastern started well against North Dakota earning the doubles point, while junior Mike Jansen and senior Freddie O’Brien earned another win at No. 1 doubles, 7-5, while senior Gage Kingsmith and Rohan Srivastava claimed a win at No. 3 doubles. 7-6.
The Panthers couldn’t rally in singles play losing all six matches, but three of them went to three sets.
Ball State was more of the same, and the unbeaten streak for Jansen and O’Brien at No. 1 doubles stops at 5-0, after falling 6-2 to the Cardinals. The only singles win was from junior Daniel Hernandez at No. 2, 6-7, 6-4 and 13-11.
O’Brien’s match at No. 1 singles was called due to retirement.
“Been a tough week for the team losing some matches against some good schools where we were right with them but didn’t capitalize,” O’Brien said. “From the fact that were very close to beating these teams and use that to build an environment what we believe in each other and have an energy that the team on the opposing side of us are slightly nervous to play, then we will break through that barrier and beat these teams.”
The schedule lightens up for Eastern traveling to Oklahoma to face Oral Roberts on Saturday.
Vince Lovergine can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]