Men’s tennis team faced hard times in February

Vince Lovergine, Men’s Tennis Reporter

The Daily Eastern News
Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News
Freshman Pau Riera goes for a return in a match at the Eastern Illinois Fall Invite in Fall 2019 at Darling Courts.

The month of February was not all too kind for the Eastern men’s tennis team and for the start of March, it has not started out promising either.

The Panthers have two matches this weekend, facing Green Bay and Chicago State, both resulting in losses, 7-0 to the Phoenix and 4-2 to the Cougars.

Action began Saturday against Green Bay and Eastern could not muster a point, but freshman Cameron Slabbert pushed his No. 6 singles match to three sets, but fell 7-5, 6-4, 10-7.

Junior Daniel Hernandez slid into No. 1 singles slot for the first time this season which ended in a loss, 6-4, 6-4. Senior Braden Davis also got in on the action, teaming up with junior Juan Carlos Garrido at No. 3 doubles and their match resulted in defeat, 6-1.

Freshman Christos Kyrillou and Max Pilpovic-Kljajic paired up at No. 2 doubles but their match went unfinished, due to Green Bay clinching the win for No. 1 and No. 3 doubles.

As for Chicago State, the Panthers showed some promise by earning the doubles point, after senior Gertjan De Wilder and freshman Rohan Srivastava got themselves a 6-4 win at No. 2 doubles, along with Kyrillou and freshman Thomas Wallace, they notched a win at No. 3 doubles 7-5.

However, Eastern could not translate its strong start into singles play, where two matches went to three sets, but Slabbert’s No. 6 singles match went unfinished after Chicago State won the match.

The two three set matches were Kyrillou at No. 2 singles and freshman Pau Riera at No. 3 singles. Kyrillou walked away with a win, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. That puts Kyrillou 2-0 at No. 2 singles this year and now has four total single wins. Riera on the other hand, fell 7-5, 7-5, 6-3.

This now marks seven straight losses for Eastern and they now stand at 7-8 overall after a 5-0 start. The most recent longest losing streak the Panthers endured was 2017 when they lost eight in a row and closed out the season at 5-19.

Eastern will get another week off and the schedule flips to conference play March 13, as the Panthers head to Jacksonville State. And, Eastern will hit Darling Courts for its home opener March 21 against conference for Tennessee Tech.

Up to this point, conference matches are now extremely important to help correct Eastern’s fall in the standings, sitting in fourth place after falling from second. Jacksonville State, Belmont and Tennessee Tech are all ahead of the Panthers.

Eastern has made the conference tournament two straight years, so again, Eastern should not be hitting the panic button.

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