BY: MATTHEW CRUMP
After a flurry of wins, Eastern’s men’s tennis team dropped two matches in a three-match weekend. The Colonels (3-5) defeated Wright State University 6-1 on Feb. 8 and dropped their next two matches to ranked teams, No. 32 Indiana State University and No. 7 University of Kentucky. Eastern lost both matches 7-0.
The first match went well for the Colonels with the team scoring its biggest win of the year, 6-1, against Wright State (5-3). The match was close with the first three matches going to three sets.
Eastern earned the doubles point without much trouble. Freshman Alex Alvaro and sophomore Juanjo de la Llera won the No. 1 doubles match 8-5. However Sophomore Daridge Saidi and freshman Lucas Smets dropped the No. 2 match 4-8.
The Colonels scooped up the doubles point after senior Jan Dombrowski and freshman Florian Graskamp won their match 8-3.
In singles, only the No. 2 match was a problem for Eastern. Saidi took the No. 1 match after a long struggle 6-7, 7-6, 6-1. Alvaro was the only Colonel to drop his match; he lost 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Smets won the No. 4 match 6-2, 6-0, junior Joao Maio took the No. 5 match 6-4, 6-4, and Graskamp snagged his win 6-1, 6-1.
The second match didn’t go well for the Colonels after the team fell 7-0 to Indiana University (6-5). The No. 32 ranked team swept Eastern in both singles and doubles.
The Colonels had a three-game winning streak coming into this game.
The closest match was the No. 3 singles match. Alvaro couldn’t win the No. 3 match 6-4, 6-2 after a strong push.
Eastern lost all three doubles matches. Head coach Rob Oertel said the team still lacks doubles experience.
“We competed well in singles against them,” Oertel said. “Our doubles was not pretty, but we’ve got a lot of European guys who don’t have a lot of doubles experience. We’re running a lot of doubles fundamentals.”
Five of the nine members of the team are freshmen.
Despite the loss, Oertel said the Colonels played better than the scores show.
“There were some long matches,” he said. “A lot of games went long. We didn’t win those long games, but if you look at the individual match score, it’s not indicative of how competitive it was.”
The results of Colonels’ last match were similar to the results from the second match.
The match started with Kentucky sweeping the Colonels in all six singles matches. The closest match was the No. 2 match, with de la Llera taking his opponent to all three sets. De la Llera started the match with a 6-3 loss. He came back in the second set and managed to barely out play his opponent 6-7. He could not keep his momentum and fell in the third set 6-1.
Kentucky continued to out play Eastern in the only doubles match of the match. Alvaro and de la Llera competed against Kentucky’s top doubles team and lost 8-1.
The match was played as a doubleheader for Kentucky. They defeated No. 29 Notre Dame 4-3 earlier that day.
Coach Oertel said he likes playing against ranked teams, despite not always finding success.
“It’s always a positive to play against ranked teams,” he said. “There are no ranked teams in the OVC. We get a lot out of playing ranked teams.”
Eastern continues its chain of difficult opponents when it plays the University of Louisville this Friday, Feb. 15 in Louisville.