By Casey Tolliver
The Eastern men’s tennis team had a rough weekend, facing two Division I powerhouses, Indiana University and the University of Kentucky. The Colonels lost to both schools, struggling at times to keep pace with their nationally-ranked opponents. Still, despite the losses, Rob Oertel, Eastern’s men’s tennis coach, said he sees a silver lining to the week’s tests.
“It says a lot for the quality of our depth and the heart and fight in our guys,” said Oertel, pointing out that a few Colonels took a set from their opponents, and one player, freshman Francisco Fontoura, won a match, defeating UK’s Kyle Virgin.
In the first match, held Friday at Bloomington, Ind., the Colonels were swept 7-0. A few players helped keep the team’s hopes up, notably junior Vadzim Ivanis, who won a set against his Indiana opponent. In addition, sophomore Johannes John and freshman Alejandro Das both forced tie-breakers, but failed to capitalize.
Two days later, at the Greg Adams Tennis Center in Richmond, the Colonels squared off with in-state rivals, the Kentucky Wildcats, which were ranked No. 48 in the nation.
The Wildcats won, taking five matches to Eastern’s one.
Oertel said the weekend proved to be a learning experience.
“We certainly found out from our activity over the weekend that we can compete with nationally ranked teams,” he said.
The Colonels’ record fell to 2-2.
Oertel said his team still has its sights set on a successful season.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the conference title and go on to the NCAA tournament,” he said, adding that the Colonels still face some stiff competition over the next few months.