Men’s tennis on a losing streak

By Brandon Cline, Sports Editor

It has been a turbulent few weeks for the EWU men’s tennis program, having lost seven straight matches, including 12 of its last 13 after starting the season 7-2, 3-0 in conference.

The Eagles’ lone win in March came against Big Sky foe Southern Utah on March 9, when they shut out the Thunderbirds, 7-0, at home despite playing without junior Robert Dula, who has not played in a match since retiring against the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on Feb. 26. EWU won every match in straight sets, and Southern Utah never challenged the Eagles in any set.

“We miss Rob leading the team in the lineup but each player has to step up and play at a higher level,” said head coach Steve Clark. “Having beefed up the schedule even more than last year, it is testing the guys and they will get better because of it.”

Freshman Victor Pereira stepped into Dula’s first singles position and breezed past Southern Utah’s Dario Rios, 6-0, 6-2, while junior Wacil Bendjelti and redshirt junior Rendell Burghart recorded, 6-0, 6-0, wins in their singles matches.

The Eagles cruised in the three doubles sets as well, as Pereira and Bendjelti picked up a 6-1 win in the first doubles slot. The Eagles won the other sets 6-1 and 6-2 in the second and third spots, respectively.

Since that match the Eagles have gone 0-7, which includes being swept by Washington twice, Nevada, No. 73 UC Davis and Sacramento State. As it stands, EWU is in a tie for fifth place in the conference standings with a record of 4-3, and would qualify for the Big Sky Tennis Championships, which take place April 29-May 1 in Gold River, California.

The Eagles have four conference matches remaining and do not return home until April 16, where they take on Weber State in their last match of the season.