Once Again, Eagles Shine in Doubles

Seniors Henninger and Sanchez claim doubles title in orange flight, while Eriksson and Russell advance to finals of blue

The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team traveled to Boise, Idaho, over the weekend for its second event of the fall season, and just as they'd done in the season opener in Cheney, the Eagles dominated doubles. In total, EWU won eight doubles matches at the 2011 Boise State Fall Classic.

"Our doubles teams are playing great for this early in the season," said head men's tennis coach Darren Haworth. "These guys have been playing with each other for a while now, and that experience and familiarity is really starting to show."

Seniors Chad Henninger and Julian Sanchez won three-straight matches to claim the title of the orange flight at the Boise State Fall Classic. The duo opened with an easy 8-1 victory over Idaho State's Miller and Pate, and then beat teammates Mario Navarro and Stefan Simikic in the quarterfinals, after that Eagle pair was forced to retire. In the championship match, Henninger and Sanchez took down Gonzaga's Guillermo and Mosquera by a score of 8-5.

Prior to bowing out against Henninger and Sanchez in the quarterfinals, Navarro and Simikic beat two teams from the Big Sky Conference in the first and second rounds of the orange draw. The Eagle duo topped Montana State's Dodd and McCormack in the opening round, 8-3, and then defeated the No. 3 seed from Montana, 9-8.

In the slightly more competitive blue draw, Eastern's flourishing young doubles team of sophomore James Russell and junior Chris Eriksson won three matches in a row to reach the championship, where they were pitted against the No. 4 seed from Idaho State. Russell and Eriksson fell in the finals, 8-5, but the duo was still able celebrate its triumphs in getting to that point.

Russell and Eriksson beat teams from Idaho in the first round and again in the quarterfinals, while earning an 8-6 victory over the No. 2 seed Bettles and Patton from host Boise State in the second round.

In singles action, Simikic had the most successful run in the main draw, as he advanced to the semifinals of the orange bracket. Simikic beat Idaho State's Dan Buckingham in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, and then handled another Bengal in Austin Miller in a competitive three-set match. Simikic won 6-7, 7-6, 6-4.

"Stefan has spent a lot of time this fall finding his rhythm again," said Haworth. "He had a great win this weekend, showing a lot of fight."

In the singles blue draw, Henninger lost his first-round matchup to Idaho's Alan Shin, but then rebounded with an inspiring run in the consolation bracket, as he celebrated back-to-back victories over Big Sky rival Montana. Henninger beat UM's Mike Facey in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4, and then outlasted Mikolaj Caruk in a fierce three-setter, 7-5, 0-6, 10-8.

"Chad played the best I've seen him play in a long time," complimented Haworth. "He worked really hard over the summer to stay in shape. He is serving well and really testing his opponents."

The Eagles saw several other notable singles victories during the weekend, including Russell's 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 decision over Montana State's Diego Campos and a 6-2, 6-2 win against for junior Kyle Koetje against MSU's Seth McCormack.

The Eagles will have one weekend off before traveling to the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships in Seattle, Wash., Oct. 21-25.

"As a team, we really need to focus on conditioning throughout the fall," said Haworth. "We have had a lot of injuries as a result of not playing this summer, so we'll need to continue to build strength and endurance in our upcoming events."

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