By Walter Garland
The Eastern men’s tennis team finished its first weekend of the year at 1-1 after a 6-1 win at home over Gardner-Webb and a 7-0 loss at Indiana the following afternoon.The season opener was held at home in the Greg Adams Tennis Center, and the Colonels dominated both singles and doubles play over visiting Gardener-Webb’s Runnin’ Bulldogs.
“I was pleasantly surprised in that opening match,” said coach Rob Oertel. “I’ve got a young team, and they played well-not like scared freshman in the start of their careers.”
The Colonels took two of the three doubles matches, which went into a tiebreaker after the teams remained tied at eight. Freshmen Parul Verma and Carles Pons Escanilla broke the tie and gave Eastern a 9-8 win.
In singles, Eastern won all of the matches save one, in which sophomore Alex Das Izquierdo was defeated by Bulldog Evgeny Slesarev.
“Alex lost to their Russian,” Oertel said, “and he [Slesarev] was the only one out of three schools who won a match against IU on Saturday, so you can see how good he is.”
The following afternoon in Bloomington, the Colonels did not fare as well, losing all matches in doubles and singles play.
“Indiana is one of the best teams on our schedule,” Oertel said. “They had attackers; they had finishers; they had closers.”
Eastern finished two of the doubles matches close, at 8-6, while senior Vadzim Ivanis and freshman Emilio Piriz were blown out by the Hoosiers on the final match, 8-0.
The atmosphere didn’t change much for singles play, as Indiana handily swept the Colonels with all of the matches ending in straight sets to finish the game 7-0. The best score in singles (6-4) came from Alex Das Izquierdo, Niklas Schroeder, Mel Segota and Parul Verma, but no one in Maroon managed a win.
Oertel said that despite the outcome, his team benefited from the loss.
“It was good for them to see that-it’s a good experience,” he said. “These guys are all tennis junkies. They’re here for the right reasons.”
The Colonels have next weekend off but will then host two opponents in back-to-back matches on Saturday, Jan. 31.
“It can be dangerous to schedule two good teams in a double-header,” said Oertel, “but I had enough confidence in our guys to go for it.”
First up will be Chattanooga at 9:30 a.m., and then Eastern will play the Xavier Musketeers at 2 p.m.