Former CNMI and Pacific No. 1 tennis player Ji Hoon Heo earned his first victory in the 2013 season of the NCAA Division 1.
Heo, who first played in Division II for Hawaii Pacific University before moving to Morehead State University in Kentucky last fall season, won both his singles and doubles matches to help the Eagles beat University of Alabama-Huntsville last Feb. 4 (Feb. 5 on Saipan) at the EAGLE Center Indoor Courts.
Heo and company had earlier dropped their first two games of the season before snapping their skid this week. Morehead, which plays in the east division of the Ohio Valley Conference, first fell to Louisville on Jan. 18, 0-7, and suffered a similar fate at the hands of Kentucky two days later. Both losses were road games, while the Eagles' third game away from home against Xavier on Feb. 2 was postponed before Morehead hosted Alabama-Huntsville last Monday.
Against the UAH Chargers, Heo played at No. 1 in singles and flirted with another loss when he bowed to Jose Soto in the opening set. However, the former CNMI junior player regained his bearings and cruised past Soto in the last two sets, 6-2, 6-1, to give Morehead one of its four singles wins against UAH.
Then in the doubles, the Eagles swept three matches with Heo winning the first game after teaming up with rookie Nick Mercer. Heo, who had 2-3 records both in the singles and doubles in his debut with the Eagles last fall season, and Mercer prevailed over Soto and Christopher Kano, 8-5. Morehead's two other doubles wins were courtesy of the tandems of Hugo Almonte and Nathan Martin and David Clifford and Kevin Deligny, who defeated Bruno Medeiros and Guillermo Reyes, 8-3, and Fredrik Graaner and Raphael Oliveira, 8-4, respectively.
Meanwhile, Heo and his teammates were also scheduled to host University of Cumberlands on Feb. 4, but the pairing was rescheduled and the Eagles will take a 10-day break before returning to the court to face St. Louis in Missouri on Feb. 15. After the match against St. Louis, the Eagles have two more games this month-against Western Kentucky on Feb. 22 and University of Charleston on Feb. 25.
Then next month will be the busiest for Heo and company, as they are scheduled to challenge nine teams-Wright State, Murray State, Austin State, Northern Kentucky, Belmont, Tennessee State, Arizona, Tennessee Tech, and Jacksonville State. The Eagles will then complete their regular season games in April against three squads (Eastern Kentucky, SIU Edwardsville, and Eastern Illinnois, and if they make the grade, they will compete in the OVC Championships set for April 9 to 21 in Paducah, Kentucky.