BY: TYLER PHILLIPS
progress@eku.edu

Eastern’s Men’s Tennis team traveled to Knoxville, Tenn. Monday, Jan. 21 to start their indoor season. The Colonels and was defeated in straight sets by the nationally ranked No. 19 team, the Tennessee Volunteers.

The Volunteers hold two of the best players in the country; Mikelis Libietis who is nationally ranked No.9 and Hunter Reese, ranked No.40.

The Colonels only return one singles player from their 2012 NCAA tournament team, junior, Joao Maio.

“For five out of the seven players on the team, this was their first college match,” Head Coach Rob Oertel said.  “They just got on campus.”

The Colonels have a whole new look to them this season with three freshman singles players and one sophomore who made his debut in an Eastern uniform against Libeitis.

Sophomore Daridge Saidi, from Aubervilliers, France, is the Colonels’ number one singles player. Saidi lost to Libeitis, 6-1, 6-0.

Despite the loss, Oertel said he has big expectations for Saidi.

“He is right now our number one,” Oertel said. “He should be our top two or three all year.”

Tennessee’s Hunter Reese defeated sophomore Juano de la Llera 6-1 and 6-2 in the number two singles match.

Eastern fell the last four matches to Tennessee in straight sets with three Did Not Finish’s.

“We were a little overwhelmed today, “ Oertel said, “but we just need to keep working.  This was a tall order for a bunch of new guys to play the number 19 team on the road.”

The Colonels will play again Saturday, Jan. 26 at Butler.

After coming off a loss to a ranked team, Butler is in the same situation as Eastern.

Both are young squads.  With no player older than a sophomore, the Butler Bulldogs are young but experienced.

Last season, Eastern defeated the Bulldogs 5-2. This season Coach Oertel has high hopes for the team.