Men’s tennis move to 3-1 on the season

By Brandon Cline, Sports Editor

After opening the season with a pair of home victories the EWU men’s tennis team split two non-conference matches to move to 3-1, falling to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Spokane and defeating the UC Riverside Highlanders at home.

Against the neighboring Bulldogs, junior Robert Dula was the only singles player to win his match, defeating Gonzaga’s Hayden Smith 6-2, 6-2, in the first singles position. Junior Wacil Bendjelti fell in a third set tiebreaker in the fifth singles spot, 10-6. Bendjelti won the first set 6-4 and dropped a tight second set, 6-7 (5).

The doubles team of sophomore Vuk Vuckovic and Bendjelti won their doubles match, 6-4, but the Eagles could not capture the doubles point after the team of Dula and Victor Pereira, along with junior Luke Ness and senior Eduardo Bringold, both dropped their match, 4-6.
Head coach Steve Clark lamented that the match could have been closer. “Though it ended up being 1-6, it could have easily been 3-4 and when it is that close, pressure does funny things to people,” he said.

“I exhorted the team to look deep to see what physical, tactical and mental areas let them down,” said Clark. “Champions give credit to a match well played to the opponent but take personal blame for the loss and are determined to fix the cause.”

The Eagles rebounded strongly against UC Riverside, rolling to a 6-1 victory over the Highlanders. Dula breezed through his singles match again, winning, 6-0, 6-1. Dula started the season 4-0, losing just six games through eight sets of tennis.

In the second singles match, EWU’s freshman Pereira won his match in three tough sets, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (1). Bringold, Vuckovic and Bendjelti won their singles matches in straight sets, while Ness fell in two sets, 6-7 (5), 2-6.

“Overall, we did some very good things and even more importantly the guys realize the areas they need to work on to shore up,” Clark said.
The Eagles are off until Feb. 11, when they travel to Colorado to take on the United States Air Force Academy. They then travel to Greeley, Colorado. A day later they travel to take on Northern Colorado in their first conference match of the season.