Eagles Conclude Fall Season on High Note
Eastern records 14 singles wins at Pacific Northwest Intercollegiates
The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team had a stellar showing in its final event of the 2010 fall season, as the Eagles had 14 singles victories, including two consolation titles, and two wins in doubles play at the Pacific Northwest Intercollegiates in Seattle, Wash.
"The team has made great strides in these fall tournaments," said EWU head coach Darren Haworth. "I was especially encouraged by what I saw this weekend. It was great to end the fall season on a high note and I hope to see the guys carry this kind of play into the spring."
After narrowly dropping his first matchup in the round of 32 of the men's open purple bracket, sophomore Fernando Mussolini won three-straight matches to advance to the finals of the consolation bracket. During the run, he topped Levin Guillermo of Gonzaga with an impressive 6-4, 6-0 performance.
"Fernando played really steady all weekend," said Haworth. "He made very few unforced errors and put a lot of pressure on his opponents."
Junior Julian Sanchez had a similar run in the purple bracket, as he fell to Oregon's Baptiste Faynot in the first round, but then went on to win two-consecutive matches in the consolation bracket. Sanchez advanced to the finals after a huge win over Portland State's Chris Rice. Sanchez upended the Viking by a score of 7-6 (5), 6-4.
"Julian played really smart against Chris [Rice]," commended Haworth. "Chris is one of Portland State's top players, and is someone who has had success against us in the past. I was really proud of Julian for grinding out that win."
With undefeated records through the first four rounds, Mussolini and Sanchez were pitted against one another in the championship of the purple consolation bracket. The two did not end up playing out the final round, but the title inevitably went home with Eastern Washington.
"They were just worn out after playing two long days of tennis, so they'll probably flip a coin to determine the winner," said Haworth. "Those two have made great improvements and are really pushing each other to be the best they can be."
Freshman James Russell, who was competing in his first event of the season for the Eagles, also had an impressive run through consolation play, as he was crowned champion of the gold consolation bracket. He recorded back-to-back victories against Portland, and then outlasted Seattle's Jason Bediones (6-2, 5-7, 10-7) in the final round to take home the title.
"James was fighting some nerves in his first round matchup, but then played extremely well in the consolation bracket," said Haworth. "I was really pleased with how he came out and competed after having only two weeks of practice under his belt."
Freshman Mario Navarro and junior Stefan Simikic both made it through the first round of the men's open purple bracket, which was the more competitive of the two. Navarro beat Portland State's Mitch Somach in three sets (5-7, 6-4, 6-3), while Simikic also won in three over Gonzaga's Zhia Hwa Chong (0-6, 6-3, 6-3). Both players ended up falling in the round of 16.
In the men's open gold bracket, junior Chad Henninger and sophomore Kyle Koetje both recorded wins over Portland in the round of 32. Koetje beat UP's Peter Jones, 7-6 (6), 6-3, and Henninger defeated Nick Wales with a 6-3, 6-4 decision.
In gold doubles play, Koetje and Russell beat Portland State's of Jeff Cero and Roman Margoulis (8-4), before falling in the quarterfinals to the eventual-champions from Idaho.
Henninger and Sanchez, who were competing in the purple doubles bracket, topped PSU's Rice and Somach, 8-5. The Eagle duo was then pitted against the overall No. 1 seed from Washington in the quarterfinal round. UW's McMorrow and Nedunchezhiyan defeated Henninger and Sanchez, 8-0.
The Eagles will begin their spring season on Jan. 22 with a doubleheader against Whitworth and Idaho. Eastern will play Whitworth at 10 a.m. in Spokane before returning to Cheney to take on Idaho at 5 p.m.