By ASHLEY OWENS
Eastern’s men’s tennis team upheld the No. 1 seed name after winning the OVC Championship on April 19. The Colonels first beat No. 4 seed Jacksonville State University in the OVC semifinals April 18 before moving on to No. 3 seed Austin Peay State University.
Eastern went up against Austin Peay already this season and lost its only conference loss of the season to the Governors. The Colonels returned against the Govs with a point to prove and will now advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Semifinals: Eastern 4 vs.
The Jacksonville Gamecocks (12-12, 6-3 OVC) started off the semifinals match April 18 with the first point after earning a win at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles spots.
In singles, sophomore Sebastian Mueller tied the match up with a straight set win at the No. 4 spot. The tie was short lived, however, and the Gamecocks went back ahead after taking the No. 3 singles. Freshman Ramon van Flymen pulled through at No. 2 singles, also in straight sets, to put Eastern toe-to-toe with Jacksonville once again.
Senior Juanjo de le Llera helped Eastern gain its first lead of the match after winning the No. 6 singles, though that too did not last long. The Gamecocks won the tough three-set win in No. 1 singles to tie the match for the third time before sophomore Diogo Soares came through in the decisive No. 5 singles match with a straight set victory to move the Colonels on to the championship.
Championship: Eastern 4 vs.
Austin Peay 2
Unlike semifinals, Eastern was the team to earn the opening doubles point. Junior Alex Álvaro and sophomore Diego Asis joined ranks at No. 2 doubles while Soares teamed up with van Flymen at No. 3 doubles to gain the point.
The Govs (14-8, 7-2 OVC) tied the match soon after doubles with a win at No. 2 singles, then quickly took the lead with another singles win at No. 1. Senior Daridge Saidi tied the match with a three-set win at No. 3 before Mueller fought off two match points in a second-set tiebreaker to win at No. 4 singles.
De la Llera came out with a two-set win at No. 5 to put the match out of reach for the Govs and put the NCAA Tournament in perfect reach for the Colonels.
Eastern (18-7, 8-1 OVC) will move on to the NCAA Tournament, with the selection show airing through livestream at 5:30 p.m., April 28, on NCAA.com.