MACOMB, Ill. - Western
Illinois men's tennis (7-8 overall, 1-0 Summit) looks to get back to .500 with a trio of matches this weekend. The Leathernecks are set to take on Northern Illinois on Saturday at 9 a.m., Wisconsin-Green Bay on Saturday at 3 p.m., and Southern Illinois on Sunday at 3 p.m.
LIKELY LINEUP: Freshman Christoph Haertel enters as the normal top singles player, though he has battled a nagging injury. 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, and has played his last three matches at top singles.
Another freshman, Bradley Holt, has seen action at No. 1, 2, and 3 singles. Just the second four-star
recruit in WIU men's tennis history, Holt is tied for best on the team with an 8-6 singles mark.
Junior Ben Yue
also brings collegiate experience into the Leatherneck lineup, including anywhere between top singles and fourth singles this season. Yue had a team best 9-8 record at No. 2 singles in
2011-12. After an early slump, Yue has won four of his last eight.
Western's typical 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 one of two Leathernecks with an above .500 record, sitting at 8-6.
The sixth singles slot is held by another freshman, Max Cederkall, who has played as high as third singles this year. The Sweden native is 7-7 in singles play, including 3-2 in the sixth slot.
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 for an impressive 5-1 doubles record so far this year, including 4-1 at No. 2 doubles.
The combination of Granger and Brandon Meeker is typically slotted at third doubles.
A LOOK AT THE HUSKIES: Northern Illinois enters the day with a 6-2 overall record...The Huskies are coming off a 4-3 loss to SIU-Edwardsville, after winning six straight before that...NIU's only other loss was a season-opening 6-1 defeat at the hands of #35 Minnesota...Northern takes on fellow Summit League foes IUPUI and Fort Wayne later in the season.
A LOOK AT THE PHOENIX: Wisconsin-Green Bay comes in with a 6-1 overall mark, falling only to #43 Drake...The Phoenix are coming off a pair of wins over Division III opponents Kenyon and UW-Whitewater...Green Bay is 3-0 against Summit League opponents, sweeping Fort Wayne and IUPUI 7-0 and beating reigning conference champions Kansas City, 6-1.
A LOOK AT THE SALUKIS: Southern Illinois enters the match with a 2-2 record, and has had a layoff of more than two weeks since falling to Memphis...SIU defeated reigning Summit League champions Kansas City, 5-2, earlier in the season.
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 an 8-6 singles record to go along with a 9-4 doubles mark.
CLEAN SWEEP: The
Leathernecks won a pair of matches last Tuesday over Illinois College and
Lindenwood-Belleville, not losing a set on the day...Western beat IC
7-0 before topping Lindenwood-Belleville 9-0...Four Leathernecks picked
up four wins on the day.
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 has a layoff of a week and a half before taking on Bradley in a midweek contest on Wednesday (March 6) at 6 p.m.