By TAYLOR WEITER
The men’s and women’s tennis teams finished their fall season at the 2015 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships at the University of Tennessee.
In the singles draw, the men finished the weekend 6-9, while the women finished 0-6 against the region’s top competitors.
“We had a tough draw,” Head Coach Rob Oertel said, “but I believe our record is respectable–especially for a tournament where so many teams are nationally ranked.”
Assistant Coach Carles Pons said Florian Graskamp and Ramon van Flymen challenged top opponents in both main and consolation draws, leading the Colonels with 2-1 records.
“I can’t remember a time where the men’s team has played this well during regionals,” Pons said.
Graskamp defeated Sean Donohue of the University of Louisville (6-4, 2-6) and Sunay Bhat of the University of Tennessee (7-6, 6-2) to compete in the semifinals of the Consolation B draw.
In what Oertel said is his best tournament performance of the year, van Flymen dominated top-seeded opponent Lucas Andersen of Ball State University (6-1, 6-3), in addition to defeating Michael Quang of the University of Louisville (7-5, 1-6, 6-3) during the singles main draw.
“Ramon obviously plays his best when the caliber is at its best,” Oertel said. “He rises to the occasion in stronger tournaments, which proves to me that he’s good under pressure.”
Senior Alex Álvaro defeated conference rival Belmont University to finish 1-1 in singles play, while junior Diogo Soares completed the tournament with a 1-2 record.
Both the men’s and women’s teams lost all doubles matches with 0-3 records, losing to top-ranked competitors from the University of Dayton and University of Tennessee.
Eastern’s women also finished the tournament with an 0-6 record in singles play, though Oertel said no loss was a bad loss.
“The level of competition is extremely high at regionals,” Oertel said. “UT Martin was the only other school from our conference even competing in the tournament.”
Oertel said that although the women’s team is still rebuilding after losing many valuable players to graduation, he is optimistic that after this year’s recruitment the women’s team will compete in its fifth consecutive conference finals during the team season.
Because regionals is the last tournament of Eastern’s individual season, the next two months will be spent with extremely limited practice time until the team season begins.
After the extended break, the men’s team will begin what Oertel said is “the best schedule in the history of EKU men’s tennis” on January 15 against the University of Kentucky, quickly followed by a visit to the reigning national champions, University of Virginia.
“Our program continues to improve,” Oertel said. “This spring will be a very exciting time for the Eastern men’s and women’s teams.”