January 28, 2011

Vikings Host IPFW in Home Opener

Jan. 28, 2011

CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Cleveland State men's tennis team continues its spring slate when the Vikings host their home opener on Saturday (Jan. 29) against IPFW at 6:00 p.m. at the Paramount Tennis Club.

The Vikings are 0-2 this spring, dropping a 7-0 decision at Western Michigan to open the season last Friday and falling at Michigan State, 6-1, on Saturday.

"Obviously, we didn't open the season as we would have liked, but we have to keep things in perspective that it was only two matches and there is a lot of tennis still to be played," head coach Brian Etzkin said. "We are excited to play our home opener on Saturday and will have to play with a lot of passion and intensity and keep our focus.

"These next two weeks will be very key for us and we will have a better idea of what kind of team we are after that. I think we are still trying to find our identity and once we start getting everyone playing at a high level at the same time, I think this team will have the chance to do well."

The Vikings, who defeated IPFW last season (5-2) on the road, are continuing to find their identity as a team after losing seniors Phil Orno and Ryan Hamning to graduation last year.

Orno left after winning a school record 99 singles matches, while Hamning won 87. The duo also teamed to win a school-record 92 doubles matches, playing predominantly at the No. 1 position.

"I think we became a little spoiled with Phil and Ryan in the program because they did such a great job of holding down the top of the lineup," Etzkin said. "And we could always count on them to play well at No. 1 doubles.

"Now, we have some players who are playing up a spot or two for the first time in their careers. But that is only going to help each player in the long run in terms of experience and hopefully once we get to the league season, everyone will be playing at a high level and be comfortable with their role on this team."

Junior Yannick Goossens and freshman Matt Kuelker gave the Vikings their lone win at Western Michigan, earning an 8-7 (7-5) win at No. 2 doubles. However, the Broncos won the other two doubles contests to earn the doubles point.

"I like the way that Goose and Matt played together in doubles," Etzkin said. "I think their games complimented each other and I look forward to seeing what else they can do together.

"Our doubles really improved from the Western Michigan and the Michigan State match. I am a firm believer that the doubles point is always going to be very crucial, especially in terms of momentum and confidence that you carry over to singles. And now we have to find a way to get all three teams playing well together at the same time."

Seniors Rob Fox and John Haley picked up an 8-5 win at No. 1 doubles against Michigan State, their 35th career victory together.

Fox also won a 6-3, 6-4 decision at No. 3 doubles against the Spartans.

"Rob was no doubt our MVP against Michigan State," Etzkin said. "But that is what we need him to do every time we take the court. He is one of our leaders on the team as a senior and I expect him to keep improving as the season goes on."

Saturday's match with IPFW starts a three match homestand for the Vikings, who will also host Niagara on Saturday (Feb. 5) at 6:00 p.m. and St. Bonaventure on Saturday (Feb. 6) at 11:00 a.m.

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