Men’s tennis faces tough competition at Regional Championships

Photo by: Lindsay HartmannFreshman Rayne Djouad returns a serve during the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Southeast Regional Championships.

Thomas O'Donnell

After a solid performance last week at the Georgia Southern Championships, six Georgia Southern University Eagles competed this past weekend in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Southeast Regional Championships, facing tough competition in the process.

“We’re excited to compete again,” head coach Nick Zieziula said before the tournament started on Thursday. “Our guys got in a lot of match play at home, and we learned a lot from those outings. Qualifying will be tough tomorrow, but the four guys we’ve got going for us are going to do what it takes to fill the draw of 64 with a lot of Georgia Southern blue.”

One of the issues over the weekend was the Eagles’ inability to finish out big matches.

“We’ve given ourselves opportunities to win against really good teams and given ourselves big leads, but we haven’t been able to finish those off,” Zieziula said.

Overall Zieziula was happy with the performances by his players and expects to see great improvements come January.

“I think we have shown a lot of progress from where we were at this point last year,” Zieziula said. “Last year at this tournament we weren’t very competitive. We didn’t put too many Ws up.”

Two Eagles automatically qualified for the main singles draw. Due to bracket placements junior Oliver Webb and junior Matthijs Verdam got free tickets to the round of 32 in the main singles draw Friday morning.

The results show that after winning the first set, Webb fell to Senior Jordan Kelly-Houston from Florida State University 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Verdam also lost his first match against University of South Florida’s Senior Juan Carlos Acuna Gerard 6-3, 6-2.

Other than Webb and Verdam, sophomore Andrew Dromsky was the only other Eagle to qualify for the main singles draw.

“This year we got Andrew Dromsky to qualify, which was a big result,” Zieziula said. “He dropped two games and two matches for qualifying in this tournament, which is huge.”

After qualifying for the first round of the main singles draw, Dromsky fell to University of Georgia’s sophomore Eric Diaz 6-3, 6-2.

“Our performance in the main draw was a little disappointing,” Zieziula said. “We competed really well. We had one of the seeds from Florida State down a set and that’s kind of been the theme of the weekend.”

The doubles main draw also caused problems for the Eagles, as all three teams lost their initial matches.

In the round of 64, Verdam and senior Alex Doherty represented the Eagles. Kennesaw State University’s freshman Tobi Menhofer and sophomore Louis Theodor 8-5 defeated them.

The Eagles were represented in the round of 32 by two teams.

First was the team of freshman Rayane Djouad and junior business administrations major Marco Osorio. They faced off against UGA’s Junior Garrett Brasseaux and sophomore Nathan Pasha. Brasseaux/Pasha defeated Djouad/Osorio 9-8.

The second team was made up of Webb and Dromsky. They faced off against USF’s Acuna Gerard and sophomore business major Oliver Pramming. Acuna Gerard/Pramming defeated Webb/Dromsky 9-7.

The Eagles are about to enter its off-season training in November. They will train for two months before starting up again in January.

“When we come back in January, we will have two weeks of practice, and then we will start up the main season of competitions and dual matches with other schools,” Zieziula said. “If we keep the bitter tastes of these disappointing losses fresh on our minds, that will keep our motivation high in the off season training. If we can do that, I have no doubt we will be successful this spring.”

The Eagles travel to The Citadel this weekend for the last tournament of their fall season, The Citadel Invitational. The tournament is set to last Friday through Sunday.