By Nick Johnson

The extended holiday weekend allowed Eastern’s men’s tennis team to make a road trip to West Lafayette, Indiana. Eastern, the defending OVC regular season champions, played their first dual match of the season against Purdue on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Also, the Colonels spent the weekend gaining valuable experience by participating in the Boilermaker Invitational. Eastern (0-1) dropped the match 6-1 to the Big Ten’s Boilermakers (1-0) on Monday.

The Colonels won one of the doubles matches. Sophomores Hugo Klientovsky and Niklas Schroder defeated Purdue’s P.J. Rose and Eric Ramos 8-7.

Eastern lost the other doubles matches losing the first point of the overall match.

In singles play, sophomore Parul Verma was Eastern’s only winner beating Matt Mannasse 6-3, 6-2.

Junior Alex Das Izquierdo and sophomore Carlos Valdenebro took their matches three sets but lost the tiebreak.

“It was good competition to start the season for us,” Head Coach Rob Oertel said. “A weekend like this gives us the opportunity to figure out our lineup and to find our best doubles combinations. We have two new players (Klientovsky and sophomore Philip Janz) and we’re trying to figure out where they fit on the team.”

Finding the right doubles combinations is key to the Colonels improvement and chances of defending their championship.

“There are so many variables in finding a good doubles team,” Oertel said. “We’re going to have to mix things around through real competition, not practice. We need match play to see who makes the best teams, who has the best chemistry together and that is going to take a little time.”

The Colonels played an assortment of teams at the Boilermaker Invitational. Along with Eastern, the rest of the field was made up of Valparaiso, Western Michigan, Ohio State as well as the host school, Purdue. Ohio State is ranked No. 3 in the nation.

During the Invitational, Das Izquierdo and Klientovsky led the Colonels with 2-1 records for the weekend. Das Izquierdo’s loss was against Ohio State’s Dino Marcan.

The Colonels also swept their singles and doubles matches with Valparaiso.

“It’s nice to compete against teams of varying talent levels,” Oertel said. “It’s never good to go to these types of events and not win, but it is also nice to play teams that are great teams so we can see where we are at. The Invitational allowed us to build our confidence as well as grow as a team and see where we need to be better.”

Eastern compiled a record of 9-9 in singles play and a record of 4-2 in doubles.

The men’s tennis team opens its home schedule with a double header on January 30. The Colonels play Southern Illinois at 1 p.m. and then play Brescia at 5 p.m.

The women’s tennis team will begin spring play Friday at the University of Louisville before returning to Richmond to begin a nine-match home stand. The Colonels, who won the OVC regular season and tournament championships last season, play East Tennessee State on Saturday at 10 a.m.

“There is even more to learn about the women’s team,” Oertel said. “We’re young, lots of room for growth. There are three freshmen that are going to have a lot of pressure and high expectations on them. But I think they will be great. It will just take time for them to grow.”

Colonel home matches take place at the Greg Adams Indoor Tennis Center.