Men’s tennis continues to improve

By Gus Bode

Saluki men’s tennis made its mark at the Marquette Invitational over the weekend with multiple comeback wins from its veteran player.

Junior Rodrigo Lama led the way for the Salukis, winning his first two matches in the main bracket. He trailed early in both matches but was able to come from behind to make a semifinals appearance. Lama’s run ended in the semifinals when he lost in straight sets.

Lama won 1-6, 6-4, 10-2 in the first round of the main bracket. He won his second-round match 6-7, 6-2, 10-5 to make the semifinals. Lama lost to Trent Hagan of Marquette in straight sets 6-2, 6-0 to end his tournament.


Five teams competed in the three-day tournament.

Lama said the tournament results showed what he was capable of doing. He said it was a much better performance than his first action of the season. At the Middle Tennessee State University Fall Invitational Sept. 25, Lama lost in straight sets in the first round.

“If I continue to play like this, I’m going to get good results,” Lama said. “The rest of the team did well in their consolation matches, and they are continuing to improve.”

Lama’s teammates fared well in the consolation brackets. Freshmen Lucas Waked and Karl Nilsson both lost their first-round matches in straight sets, but neither of them gave up.

In the consolation bracket, Waked did not lose a match. He won his semifinal match in dominant fashion 6-4, 6-3 before going on to the finals, where Waked beat Mark Rutherford of Marquette in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.

Nilsson also had moderate success in his consolation bracket. After losing in the first round of the main bracket, Nilsson won his first collegiate tennis match against Eric Hines of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay 6-4, 6-4. He went on to lose in the second round in straight sets.

Nilsson said he was happy to notch his first college win but sees where he can improve. He said he is continuing to work on his form to get better results in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Mid-American Regional at Tulsa, Okla., on Oct. 19.


“I’m just trying to keep my head up,” Nilsson said. “I was really nervous going into the first match, then I settled down.”

The Salukis didn’t perform favorably in every facet of the tournament, however. In doubles action, SIU went winless before Lama’s back spasms ended the team’s day. Aside from that, head coach Dann Nelson said he was proud of his team’s performance.

“There was a lot of improvement, especially from Lama’s individual performance and Nilsson’s first collegiate win,” Nelson said. “Now the team has to work on their doubles play.”