Pioneers Open Season on High Note Following Strong Showing at Illinois-Springfield Tournament [March 20, 2015]
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. --- High expectations are always accompanied by a certain degree of pressure.
That said, the Prairie State College men’s tennis team knows this full-well and has already shrugged off any anxiety that may have built up prior to a strong opening-weekend of competition at the University of Illinois-Springfield Tournament this past Friday and Saturday.
The Pioneers (2-1) enter the 2015 campaign as two-time defending NJCAA Region IV and Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference champions.
PSC opened the regular season Friday with a solid 7-2 triumph over Calumet College of St. Joseph’s (Ind.). The Pioneers opened play on Saturday with a 6-3 win over Lewis and Clark before eventually falling to host Illinois-Springfield, 9-0.
Head coach Patrick Reichard’s top four singles players all jump-started their 2015 campaigns with victories over Calumet and Lewis and Clark.
Sophomore No. 1 Srdja Nikolic (Mihailo Petrovic H.S., Serbia), No. 2 player sophomore Osiris Carroll (Madison H.S., GA), sophomore third singles competitor Lotfi El Jai (El Hassania H.S., Morocco) and sophomore No. 4 Junior Gomez (T.F. South H.S.) all won their first two matches.
PSC’s top two doubles teams also opened the slate at 2-0 as the No. 1 tandem of Nikolic and Carroll triumphed against Calumet and Lewis and Clark. The Pioneers’ second duo of El Jai and Gomez were also victorious in their first two outings.
Reichard, needless to say, was more than pleased with his team's performance.
"We've had a great start to our regular season," he said. "I'm really confident going into regional play. In the fall, we lost to Calumet College 4-5, so to beat them 7-2 with the same squad in the spring shows how much we've improved over the winter.
"Beating Lewis and Clark was a huge boost as well. We met their team at the national tournament last year, and they finished ahead of us."
Reichard, a two-time Skyway Conference Coach of the Year, was also quick to credit first-year assistant Beau Gutierrez for his contributions to the successful weekend.
"Coach Gutierrez has already made a great impact on our players. His technical insights have really improved every player on our team," Reichard said. "Now, every single guy on the team is tough to beat because they apply so much pressure on their opponents. Our team plays their best tennis when the match is on they line. They are all clutch athletes."
PSC will hit the court next on Sunday when the Pioneers are slated to host DuPage in a historic afternoon for the program. Reichard’s squad will host the first true home tennis match in Prairie State Collegehistory. The program had previously played all of its outdoor home matches at Marian Catholic High School for the past five seasons.
2015 Men's Tennis Letters of Intent Signees
The following student-athletes have signed NJCAA letters of intent to continue their academic and tennis careers at Prairie State College beginning in the Fall 2014 semester:
- Matthew Harston (Kenwood Academy)
2016 Men's Tennis Letters of Intent Signees
The following student-athletes have signed NJCAA letters of intent to continue their academic and tennis careers at Prairie State College beginning in the Fall 2015 semester:
- Jesse Myles II (Homewood-Flossmoor H.S.)