MACOMB, Ill. - Western
Illinois men's tennis continues its 21-match road swing this weekend (Feb. 1-3) as it takes on Iowa on Friday and Creighton on Saturday, before opening Summit League play at Omaha on Sunday.
The Leathernecks (2-3 overall) look to open conference action on a winning note against the Mavericks (0-1 overall).
LIKELY LINEUP: Freshman Christoph Haertel enters as the top singles player. The Germany native was a top junior player overseas and all-state at Quincy High School as a foreign exchange student.
At No. 2 singles, senior Patrick Hammers brings the most collegiate experience to the Leatherneck lineup. As the only senior on the roster, Hammers is a two-time All-Summit League selection.
Another freshman, Bradley Holt, will likely be slotted at No. 3 singles. Just the second four-star recruit in WIU men's tennis history, Holt is currently tied for the best singles record on the team at 3-2.
Junior Ben Yue
also brings collegiate experience into the Leatherneck lineup, likely
at No. 4 singles. Yue had a team best 9-8 record at No. 2 singles in
Western's No. 5 singles player, sophomore Mitch Granger, is currently ranked by the ITA as the No. 17 singles player in the NCAA Division I central region. Granger is currently third-best on the squad with a 2-2 singles record.
The sixth singles slot is held by another freshman, Max Cederkall. The Sweden native is tied with Holt for the best singles record on the squad with a 3-2 mark.
At doubles, the top slot is held by the two most experienced players on the team in Hammers and Yue.
Holt and Haertel have combined to go a perfect 3-0 at No. 2 doubles so far this year.
The combination of Granger and Brandon Meeker is typically slotted at third doubles.
A LOOK AT THE HAWKEYES: Iowa enters the weekend with a 1-1 overall record...Illinois State topped the Hawkeyes, 5-2...Iowa evened its record by defeating Loyola Marymount, 5-2...Jonas Dierckx finished the fall season with a team-best 9-4 singles record...The Hawkeyes finished the 2012 season with a 1-22 record, only defeating George Washington...Iowa takes on Bradley in the morning Friday, before hosting the Leathernecks in the evening.
A LOOK AT THE BLUEJAYS: This weekend's match marks Creighton's home-opener and first dual match, only competing in the MVC Individual Championships so far this spring...The Jays finished 2012 with a 9-10 overall mark, but went 3-0 against teams currently in the Summit League by defeating Kansas City, South Dakota State, and Omaha...Billy Paluch is Creighton's top returning player, as he finished the year 17-11, including 12-7 at No. 1 singles.
A LOOK AT THE MAVERICKS: Omaha's match against Western Illinois marks the men's tennis program's first-ever Summit League contest...The Mavericks enter the weekend with an 0-1 record after falling to Arkansas, 7-0...Before taking on Western, Omaha also hosts Nebraska Wesleyan on Friday...The squad finished 6-13 last year as it transitioned to a Division I program...Omaha defeated the Leathernecks last year, 4-3.
WEEK'S BEST: Freshman Bradley Holt is off to a hot start to open his collegiate career...He was named the Summit League Men's Tennis Player of the Week after the opening weekend...Holt currently holds a 3-2 singles record to go along with a 3-0 doubles record.
The Leathernecks were tabbed to finish fourth out of six teams in the
Summit League preseason poll...Kansas City is the favorite to win the
league, receiving four first-place votes...Western Illinois was
projected ahead of South Dakota State and Omaha.
ON DECK: Western continues its road swing next weekend, with matches at Iowa on Friday, Creighton on Saturday and Omaha on Sunday.