Tennis teams falter after promising start

The Viking men’s and women’s tennis teams each managed a single early-season win before falling into a slump that hasn’t allowed either team another win this year.

The men’s team, after winning their season opener 7-0 against George Fox, lost 0-7 to Eastern Washington, 0-7 to Gonzaga, 0-7 to Alberta, and 0-7 to Idaho.

“When you’ve lost that many matches, you really just have to go out there and think like winners,” said Portland State coach Leslie Lewis.

“Win or lose, you’ve got to play again. You’ve got to start fresh everyday with a positive attitude.”

The Vikings then kept it close against Lewis and Clark before dropping that match 3-4. The teams split the singles matches, with senior Luke Schroeter, freshman Cody Hoversland and sophomore Cory Bennett all winning their singles matches.

The Vikings had to forfeit the doubles point and the match when they could not find enough eligible players to fill out the doubles roster.

They lost their next two matches 0-7 to Gonzaga and Willamette. The team is now 1-7.

“We only have to win our regional, one match, to go to the conference tournament. That’s our goal and we can’t lose focus,” Lewis said.

The women, since their 4-3 victory over Willamette on Feb. 4, have lost three shutouts in a row to Eastern Washington, Montana and Gonzaga for a 1-6 record on the year.

“Our luck has just continued going in the wrong direction. This has been really hard on the team. We were looking forward to having a good year and then just one thing after another hits them. Sarah Tilton is out with a back injury for the year. We have another who is not certified as eligible. Our Japanese exchange student is leaving after the term so she will only be playing in one more match. After that we won’t even be able to fill out the roster,” Lewis said.

The women, short on players, have had to play with only five per match, which automatically forfeits a singles point and the doubles point in each match to the opposition.

“The minimum you can play with is five, but you start every match knowing you’re down two, and that makes it extremely difficult. They had a great match against Willamette, though. They’re keeping their chins up and hanging in there,” said Lewis.

Lewis noted that the team is looking for women with minimal tennis experience to play for the team.

“They need to meet certain eligibility requirements, and they need to know that most of our competition has junior, national, and even international experience,” Lewis said.

Portland State is currently near the bottom of the Big Sky pre-season rankings in both the men’s and women’s categories. The men are tied for last place with Eastern Washington, who shut the Vikings out. The women are one place ahead of Eastern Washington, who has shut out Portland State twice already.

The women will play Lewis and Clark on March 17, their first action since Feb. 24.”We spent our little break practicing, working on some shots that needed work. Last week they had three days off to study, rest up, and get prepared. Some of them had colds and injuries so they used the time to get back on track for the rest of the season,” Lewis said.

The men have not had a match since Feb. 25, and play this Saturday in Eugene against the Oregon Ducks.

“I told them it was a great opportunity. Oregon is 63rd in the country. Only 25 other teams get to play them this year. This is a great learning experience for us. Along with them, we play the University of Portland, and if they are not ranked now, by the end of the year they will be. If our guys can play with heart and play in the moment, then they will be able to get something out of the match, and that will give them the match toughness to be ready for the rest of the matches, all of which we have an excellent chance of winning,” Lewis concluded.