By Cameron Blair
Eastern’s men’s and women’s tennis teams both proved they can compete with some of the best player’s in the nation at the ITA Southeast Indoor Championship held in Lexington.Both the Colonel men and women had two players advance past first round play in the large tournament.
“To win any rounds at the regional tournament is a great accomplishment,” Head Coach Rob Oertel said. “Especially since many of the players competing are ranked nationally.”
The tournament consists of 256 players in the men’s and women’s draw. Every Division I team in the southeast region, which boasts the most ranked teams in the country, sends their top two or three players to the tournament to represent their respective schools.
On the women’s side, junior Svetlana Pimenova made it to the fourth round. After bye in the first two rounds, Pimenova defeated UNC’s Alex Jurewitz in come-from-behind fashion. Pimenova won the final two sets of the match after dropping the first round to the Tar Heel’s star (4-6;6-1;6-0).
Junior Alexander Sitnikova picked up two victories in the tournament before losing in the third round. Sitnikova defeated USC Upstate’s Susanna Hernandez and UNC-Greensboro’s Arielle Vonstrolley in straight sets to advance to the third round.
Sitnikova then fell to Duke’s Melissa Mang in straight sets in the round of 64.
The women’s performance left Oertel feeling optimistic about his team heading into the spring semester.
“I’m confident we will be a better team this year with our recruiting and adding Meredith back into the mix,” Oertel said.
Oertel was referring to 2006 All-OVC Player of the Year Meredith Giles, who was ineligible last season.
On the men’s side of the draw, senior Lars Gratzki and freshman Alex Das both advanced to the second round of the tournament before falling.
Das, a freshman from Spain, defeated LSU’s Ryan Lissner in the first round of 256 in dominant fashion. Das defeated Lissner in straight sets (6-3;6-3).
“Playing in the regional tournament showed these guys that they both have the ability to compete with nationally ranked players,” Oertel said.
The ITA Southeast Regional concluded the short fall tennis season for Eastern. The Colonels will return to action next semester in late January.