Cheney, Wash. – The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team started Big Sky Conference play versus Northern Colorado on Friday, Feb. 20, picking up an impressive 5-2 to win over the Bears before falling 1-6 to local foe Gonzaga in a tough competitive match a day later on Saturday, Feb. 21.
After week long bye and on a two game winning streak, the Eagles went into the game against UNCO hoping to continue their winning ways. During the opening doubles portion of the conference meeting, Eastern started off hot, picking up the first two doubles matches of the day with the combination of freshman Vuk Vuckovic and junior Luke Thompson earning the first win, a 6-3 terminator victory over King and Loughnan. Sophomore Robert Dula and junior Eduardo Martinez finalized the early 1-0 lead by defeating the Bears' number one pairing of Gendron and Mayo.
Moving into the singles matches, it was clear that the road to the victory would not be easy for both teams as several matches featured many sudden death points and intense rallies. In the number one position against Gendron, Dula started his match with a blistering pace, earning a quick 6-2, 6-1 terminator win to give the Eagles a 2-0 match lead. After the score was made 2-1 with a Northern Colorado win in the second position, the Eagles were able to pick up the final game-clinching two points as junior Eduardo Bringold (2-6, 6-2, 6-4) and Martinez (4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4) played a series of close three-set matches against the Bears in which they both were able to earn come back wins.
After the 5-2 victory over UNCO, the Eagles made the short trip to Spokane to face Gonzaga in a late afternoon match. In what was a tough competition for both teams, the Bulldogs managed to earn the win by a final score of 6-1, snapping EWU's three match winning streak.
Dula continued to shine in Eastern's second match of the weekend, finding EWU's only victory in the number one slot by defeating GU's best player in Alvaro Nazal in a difficult three set match (6-4, 1-6,1-0 (10-8)). In what was a long, back and forth match, Dula was able to play stellar tennis against one of the region's toughest players.
"The guys showed guts and fight this weekend," said head coach Steve Clark, "I do not usuallly like moral victories but Rob Dula's win against GU was one. We have a lot of work to do in doubles and some of our singles execution, but on many fronts we have stepped up and the guys are playing better. I am very proud of the guys for their 5-2 win over Northern Colorado. As whole the team is progressing well. We have been working on a ton of things this year and many came to pass this weekend."
The Eagles will hit the road again for their next two matches, continuing Big Sky play versus Idaho State in Pocatello, Idaho, on Saturday, Mar. 7, at 2 p.m., and Weber State in Ogden, Utah, on Sunday, Mar. 8, at 10 a.m.