Cheney, Wash. – The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team came out strong with an inspired performance in its first action of the season at the EWU Fall Classic, Friday Sept. 18 through Sunday the 20th.
Facing off against Idaho, Gonzaga, and Seattle University, the Eagles took home quite a few victories, including junior Robert Dula who won the Red Singles Flight. The Eastern Washington number one seed took down Gonzaga's top two players Jordan Smith and Hayden Smith en route to the finals, where he earned the win over Idaho's Mark Kovacs. Coach Steve Clark had this to say of his top performer, "Robert is highly respected by coaches and players alike, and this weekend proved why. He beat three very good players in a row all in three sets which is very grueling." However, that was not the only victory Dula pulled in this weekend. He was chosen for the sportsmanship award that Coach Clark started this year. "Such an award has never been given at a collegiate tournament, but I feel this has to be emphasized if we really mean what we say. Umpires and coaches alike, in the majority, nominated and voted for Dula", mentioned Clark.
Around the rest of the tournament, junior Wacil Bendjelti, the number two seed in the Black Singles Flight, made it to the finals until he fell to the number one seed, Gonzaga's Vicente Varas in a close match that finished 4-6, 6-4, 15-13. Other Eastern Washington players were newcomers Victor Pereira and JJ Minakata. Pereira, paired with Dula in the doubles bracket, lost in the first round but ended with successive wins to top the consolation bracket. Minakata in the Black Singles Flight took a round off Seattle's Gus Orlando before losing to the eventual winner Varas.
Up next on Eastern's schedule will be the OK ITA All American tournament. Clark believes the Fall Classic was "perfect training" for the October 3-5 tournament. He will be taking Dula, Pereira, sophomore Vuk Vuckovic, and senior Eduardo Bringold to compete in Tulsa.