Women’s tennis team sits at 3rd in OVC

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s tennis team has won its last five out of six conference games and currently sits in 3rd place in the Ohio Valley Conference standings.

The Panthers are a half-game behind leaders Murray State and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Eastern had two come-from-behind victories in its last two matches against Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri.

Eastern coach John Blackburn said the two wins showed multiple characteristics of his team.

“I think it shows the team has a lot of resiliency and character,” Blackburn said. “In the match against UT-Martin, we lost the doubles point to start the match and then were behind early in two of the four singles matches, we won. Our players are fighting hard and not giving in when they face adversity, which is awesome to see.”

Blackburn was impressed with the way juniors Kelly Iden, Ali Foster, Hannah Kimbrough and sophomore Kamile Stadalninkaite’s singles matches were played against Tennessee-Martin.

“I was also pleased with some improved doubles play and a very complete singles effort against SEMO,” he said.

The Panthers shut out Southeast Missouri Sunday, and only one singles match had to go into a tiebreaker. Friday, the Panthers defeated Tennessee-Martin, 4-3.

Foster and Kimbrough defeated their opponent, 8-1, while Iden and Stadalninkaite defeated their opponent, 8-2, Sunday.

With the Panthers currently in a good position to get the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, Blackburn said his team is focusing on their own level of play.

“We’re showing we are capable of playing at a level that will allow us to be very competitive in the OVC,” he said. “We’re focusing on consistently reaching that level and letting the rest take care of itself.”

The conference tournament starts April 17 in Nashville, Tenn., and it will be at the Centennial Sportsplex Center.

The Panthers face Jacksonville State Saturday in the beginning of a four-game stretch before they start their conference tournament.

Eastern will take on Belmont Tuesday and then be at home April 10-11 against Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky at Darling Courts.

Blackburn said it is exciting to see the beginning of what his team is capable of doing down the stretch in the final games of the season.

“The race is really with ourselves,” he said. “We need to pursue our best every day, and I think that gives us a chance to be successful.”

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