Men’s tennis open conference play with two close wins

By Brandon Cline, Sports Editor

EWU men’s tennis team returns to Cheney 2-0 in conference play after a couple of tight 4-3 wins over Northern Colorado on Feb. 12 and North Dakota on Feb. 14, improving their overall record to 5-2.

Against Northern Colorado, the Eagles dropped the doubles point after losing two sets, meaning the Eagles would needed to win four of the six singles matches to win the season’s first Big Sky match.

Junior Robert Dula dispatched the country’s 117th ranked player, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, Eric Schuermans, 6-0, 6-2. Senior Eduardo Bringold and freshman Victor Pereira both dropped tight matches in the second and third singles matches, respectively.

The players in the bottom half of EWU’s singles matches came through for the Eagles though, with junior Wacil Bendjelti, sophomore Vuk Vuckovic and junior Rendell Burghart each winning their matches in straight sets to give the Eagles a 4-3 win.

Burghart, who was just 1-1 in singles matches on the season, won the sixth singles match, 6-1, 7-5, to seal the match for EWU. “I preach every day they always have to give their best, so they can some time play their best and one time be the best, and today, Rendell got the call to play and came through,” said head coach Steve Clark.

The Eagles traveled to North Dakota for a match against the Fighting Hawks to close out the road trip, winning another 4-3 contest.

In the match against North Dakota, the Eagles swept the three doubles sets to earn the doubles points and were again anchored by a strong performance from Dula, who dispatched his first singles opponent, David Bergstrom, 6-1, 6-2. Dula now sits at 7-0 on the season in singles and is 6-1 in doubles.

Bringold and Burghart were the other singles winners for EWU, each winning in straight sets. In the fifth singles spot this time, Burghart again came through in a tight match, winning, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, while Bringold breezed through his match, 6-3, 6-1.

The Eagles return home for a conference match against the Portland State Vikings on Feb. 20, with the match scheduled to start at 11 a.m. The Vikings are 5-1 overall on the season and 1-0 in conference with a win over Northern Arizona.