The Valparaiso University men’s tennis team opened its fall schedule on Friday afternoon with a full slate of doubles contests for the first day of the Country Inn & Suites Invitational hosted by Bradley in Peoria, Ill.
All five Crusaders that made the trip saw action in three doubles matches each with mixed results.
In flight number one, Alex Lau (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson Senior H.S.) and Kevin DeHerrera (Littleton, Colo./Chatfield H.S.) came out and defeated Horizon League foes Sebastian Lystad and Dave Robare of UIC 8-6. For DeHerrera, the victory marked his collegiate debut as well. The duo dropped their second match, 9-7, to the host Braves, and the team of Evgeny Samoylov and Richard Robertson. In their final doubles contest of the day, Lau and DeHerrera dropped another close match, 8-6, to Matt Keesey and Matt Clegg of Green Bay.
“Alex and Kevin played really well today,” head coach Jim Daugherty said. “I was happy they came out strong and had a great win against UIC.”
The second flight saw the Crusader duo of Phidias Fortune (San Antonio, Texas/Madison H.S.) and Kyle Stump (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth H.S.) play three close matches, but were unable to come away with a victory. The pair started dropping an 8-6 decision to the Saint Louis team of Sean McManus and Jake Hendrie. After a bye in the second round, Fortune and Stump fell 8-5 to UIC’s Danny Wilson and Nate Kirk before dropping their final match by the same score to Bradley’s Milos Romic and Callan Fraychineaud.
Valpo freshman Adam Whitmer (Shipshewana, Ind./Westview H.S.) also made his collegiate debut on Friday. He teamed with Green Bay’s John Brough for three contests, with the duo winning a pair. They started their day with an 8-4 win over Trevor McGrath of Bradley and Dave Welkener of Saint Louis. The pair dropped their middle match 8-6 to the UIC team of Adriano Liccardo and Khaled Abou-ouf before rebounding with an 8-5 triumph against Saint Louis’ Bryan Beasley and Matt Gordan.
“We’re playing teams really close,” Daugherty said. “Everyone here is a really solid team. I am really encouraged by our play.”
The Crusaders will return to the courts in Peoria on Saturday morning for day two of the three day event. Saturday’s play will begin with a final round of doubles beginning at 9 a.m. followed by three rounds of singles. The tournament will conclude on Sunday morning starting at 9 a.m. with two more rounds of doubles.