Picking up right where they left off in 2010, Eriksson and Russell advance to doubles championship at EWU Fall Classic
After celebrating one of the most successful seasons in Eastern Washington University men's tennis history, partners Chris Eriksson and James Russell got right back to it this weekend at the EWU Fall Classic in Cheney, Wash.
Russell and Eriksson, who compiled a 13-2 overall record last season and 7-1 mark in Big Sky Conference action, won four-consecutive matches between Friday (Sept. 23) and Sunday (Sept 25) to earn a spot in the doubles championship of Eastern's season-opening tourney. The duo eventually fell to Boise State's Erik Sheldon and Aidan Reid, 8-3, in the finals.
Eriksson and Russell advanced to the championship after beating their own teammates, Mario Navarro and Stefan Simikic, in the semifinal round. The two Eastern teams played a close match, but Russell and Eriksson prevailed with an 8-6 decision.
"It was great to see several players start off the year with a solid showing in doubles," said EWU head coach Darren Haworth. "Doubles has been one of our strong points in the last couple of seasons, and I was impressed to see that same competitiveness right off the bat."
In their run to the championship, Eriksson and Russell beat three different teams from Gonzaga, Lewis-Clark State and Idaho. Navarro and Simikic also impressed the home crowd with wins over Muzeen Ismath and Vladimir Mijatovic of Gonzaga and Mikolaj Karuk and Mike Facey of Montana.
In singles action, nearly every Eagle who stepped on the court recorded at least one win. Highlighting the performances were senior Chad Henninger and sophomore Mario Navarro, who both advanced to the quarterfinal round.
After beating Idaho's Andrew Dobbs, 6-3, 6-2, Henninger had an inspiring performance in the Round of 16 against Karuk of Montana. Karuk blanked Henninger in the first set, 6-0, but the Eugene, Ore., native battled back to win the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (5), and then took the third set, 1-0 (8).
"Chad had a fantastic run," said Haworth. "He gave it everything he had, and set a great example for the team by leaving it all out on the court with no excuses."
Later in the quarterfinals, Henninger dropped a 6-1, 6-3 decision to the eventual champion of the "A" flight, Alvaro Nazal of GU.
Navarro had two notable wins in the "A" flight, as he topped Montana's Ben DeMoiras, 6-4, 6-1, and then took down Aidan Reid of Boise State, 6-4, 6-2. Navarro eventually bowed out in the quarterfinals with a tough 7-6 (3), 6-2 loss to Oregon's Sho Higuchi.
In the "B" flight, junior Kyle Koetje made it through to the semifinals with back-to-back wins against Gonzaga and Seattle. Koetje won both matches in straight sets. He then fell in the semis to GU's Pablo Mosquera, who was eventually crowned champion of the bracket.
"Overall, this was a really deep tournament and I was pleased with many of our performances," said Haworth. "The team was pretty beat up and sore from the first week of practice, but we were able to gut out some big wins."
The Eagles will next travel to Boise, Idaho for the Boise State Fall Classic Oct. 7-9.
Collegiate "A" Flight Singles
Round of 32
Mario Navarro def. Ben DeMoiras (UM), 6-4, 6-1
Julian Sacnhez def. Doug Mayeda (UO), 6-2, 6-4
Chad Henninger def. Andrew Dobbs (UI), 6-3, 6-2
Zhia Hwa Chong (GU) def. James Russell, 6-3, 6-3
Ethan Vaughn (UM) def. Stefan Simikic, 6-4, 7-6 (4)
Round of 16
Mario Navarro def. Aidan Reid (BSU), 6-4, 6-2
Chad Henninger def. Mikolaj Karuk (UM), 0-6, 7-6 (5), 1-0 (8)
Garrett Patton (BSU) def. Julian Sanchez, 6-2, 6-2
Sho Higuchi (UO) def. Mario Navarro, 7-6 (3), 6-2
Alvaro Nazal (GU) def. Chad Henninger, 6-1, 6-3
Collegiate "A" Flight Consolation
Carl Kuschke (UM) def. James Russell, 4-1 (ret.)
Stefan Simikic def. Andrew Anderson (SU), 7-6 (5), 5-3 (ret.)
Carl Kuschke (UM) def. Stefan Simikic, 6-0, 6-0
Collegiate "B" Flight Singles
Round of 16
Kyle Koetje def. Chris Dalton (GU), 6-2, 6-2
Kyle Koetje def. Jason Bediones (SU), 6-3, 6-4
Pablo Mosquera (GU) def. Kyle Koetje, 6-1, 2-6, 1-0 (8)
Round of 32
Navarro/Simikic def. Ismath/Mijatovic (GU), 8-5
Russell/Eriksson def. Mosquera/Dalton (GU), 8-5
Navarro/Simikic def. Jankovich/Schoebel (GU/UM), 8-1
Russell/Eriksson def. Uauy/Gay (LCSC), 9-8 (1)
Vaughn/Luczak (UM) def. Henninger/Sanchez, 9-8 (3)
Navarro/Simikic def. Karuk/Facey (UM), 8-3
Eriksson/Russell def. Akbar/Dobbs (UI), 8-5
Russell/Eriksson def. Navarro/Simikic, 8-6
Sheldon/Reid (BSU) def. Russell/Eriksson, 8-3