CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – After splitting the first two sets in tiebreakers, Dan Lineberry won the third set Sunday over Grant Reiman to clinch a 4-3 victory for SIUE men's tennis over Eastern Illinois.
Lineberry won his No. 4 singles match 7-6, 6-7, 6-4.
"Being a freshman and having that pressure put on you in your first conference match is tough, but we knew Dan would respond and find a way to clinch a win for his team," said SIUE Head Coach Jason Coomer.
SIUE improved to 1-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference and 5-9 overall. Eastern Illinois, which hosted the event indoors at the Illinois Tennis Center, dropped to 2-9 overall and 0-1 in the OVC.
"Today was a hard fought win for our guys," said Coomer.
SIUE won what turned out to be a crucial point in doubles. Nico Kuehn and Lineberry topped Grant Reiman and Trent Reiman at No. 3 doubles 6-4. Matthew Hutchinson and Jack Desse bested Robert Smolik and Rui Silva 6-3 at No. 1 doubles.
"Our doubles teams came out and played very smart even when getting behind early in their matches," said Coomer. "They found a way to get back on top."
Lineberry picked up the clinching point in singles, but it was a pair of straight-set victories by Patrick Gaffigan at No. 3 singles and Desse at No. 6 singles that set up the Cougars.
"Jack was great today," said Coomer. "He played extremely smart and was aggressive throughout the day. There was really no question with his match after he won the first set."
SIUE continues on a road trip with two more matches next week. The Cougars travel to Austin Peay for a 2 p.m. match Friday followed by a 2 p.m. contest Saturday at Murray State.
"We are back on the road next week and need to focus on Austin Peay first," said Coomer. "We are continuing to improve weekly but haven't gotten everyone on the same page on the same day. That day will come. We just need to trust in what we are doing during the week and implement that in conference matches."