Tennis team wins 3rd straight match

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s tennis team continued its winning streak Saturday after a 5-2 win over Chicago State in Danville.

The Panthers took the doubles point along with winning four singles matches.

Eastern coach John Blackburn was impressed with the way his team fought for the win.

“I think we played the critical points at the end of the doubles matches well, which got us the double point,” he said. “I really liked the way Kelly (Iden), Ali (Foster) and Hannah (Kimbrough) came out and took control of their matches early on and carried it through for wins in singles.”

Foster, a junior, came out in the No. 3 singles match of Chicago State freshman Matea Roki in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.

This was Foster’s seventh win in a row. Her only loss came in the first match against Indiana.

Blackburn said Foster has been great all year with playing to her strengths.

“She is also outstanding in that her level of play and focus have been extremely consistent,” she said. “She hasn’t had a lot of drop offs in her matches, that’s what leads to a lot of wins.”

The duo of Foster and Kimbrough, a junior, came away with a doubles win against Cougar junior Carynne Lloyd and sophomore Faith Huckabee 6-5.

The Panthers finished off doubles with wins by freshman Grace Summers and senior Sephora Boulbahaiem, who beat Roki and sophomore Hanna Pangestu 6-5.

Iden and sophomore Kamile Stadalninkaite won their match by default.

Blackburn said chemistry is the reason the doubles teams of the Panthers have been on a roll as of late.

“I think most of the time our teams really support each other and know each other well and know how to play together,” he said. ‘”We don’t mix up our doubles parings much, so it builds through the season.”

Kimbrough defeated freshman Lorea Gamboa in the No. 5 singles match 6-1, 6-3. Stadalninkaite won by default.

The only two Panther losses came at the hands of Lloyd, who defeated Summers 6-4, 1-6,10-8.

Also, Huckabee defeated Boulbahaiem 1-6, 7-5, 11-9.

With winning three matches in a row, the level of confidence is on the rise for the Panthers Blackburn said.

“I think when you come through and find a way to win matches, it always builds confidence,” he said. “I think it will benefit us going forward.”

The Panthers will start their conference matches against Tennessee State Friday and Belmont Saturday.

Blackburn said there is an excitement when it comes time for the conference season.

“We work all year to build toward the next five weeks,” he said. “This is the time of year we all look forward to. I’m excited to see how that hard work pays off for us.”


Bob Reynolds can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].