Men’s tennis finishes season strong, beats Idaho, 4-3

By Brandon Cline, Staff Writer

Although the EWU men’s tennis team was eliminated from postseason play, it had a lot to play for in its final match of the season on April 15, as Eastern defeated the University of Idaho, 4-3.

The Eagles headed into the match with a record of 4-6 in conference play, while the Vandals sat at 8-2. EWU grabbed the coveted doubles point, winning 2 of the 3 one-set doubles matches.

The team of Robert Dula and Eduardo Martinez set down Idaho’s first doubles, 6-3, while the third doubles team of Eduardo Bringold and Luke Ness battled in a tough set and won after breaking Idaho’s third doubles team in the deciding game for a 6-4 victory.

With all six matches starting at the same time, the second, third and fourth singles matches ended first, with the Vandals claiming victories in all three. Vuk Vuckovic lost a tough three-set battle in the third singles slot, while Eduardo Martinez and Wacil Bendjelti fell in two sets in the second and third singles spots, respectively.

With the first three matches going to the Vandals, the Eagles needed to close the day winning its last three matches to claim its best win of the season. In the sixth singles position, senior Stefan Farrar posted a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 win in his final collegiate match, where he built up a 5-2 lead in the third set and held on for the win.

In the fifth singles position, Bringold played his second intense match of the day, facing up and downs in a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory. Like Farrar, Bringold held on to a sufficient lead in the third set to clinch the third point of the day for the Eagles.

The first singles match was a tight-knit battle all throughout, with EWU’s Dula winning the first set, 7-6 (7-5). Idaho’s Odon Barta nabbed the second set, 6-3, forcing a third set that would decide both the singles and the entire match. With Barta serving down 4-5, Dula raced out to a 40-0 lead in the penultimate game and finished off Barta two points later, giving the Eagles a signature win to close out the season.

For EWU, it is the program’s first win over Idaho since 2009 and just the sixth win over the Vandals since 1984.

“For these guys, it’s the best win of their career here. To me, it’s just the beginning of where it should go. Idaho’s a good team, we haven’t beaten them in six years,” said first-year head coach Steve Clark, who coached nationally ranked teams at Texas Tech and UC Irvine.

Clark has focused on fundamentals and hard work in his first year at the helm, implementing FOCUS; fundamentals, opportunity, conditioning, unity and success.

“One of the things that I try and put in to the guys every day is if you always give your best, you will sometimes play your best, and one time be the best. We gave our best, we didn’t play our best, but we still beat the best. And we were the best today,” said Clark. “It was a great team effort all-around, and even though our season is done, we will be back to the weights tomorrow morning.”