Summers brings intensity to the court

Maria Baldwin, Staff Reporter

Eastern women’s tennis team freshman Grace Summers knows how to bring intensity to the tennis

Grace Summers, a freshmen, practices a serve at the Darlings Courts Tues. March 31 during the Panthers tennis practice.
Kevin Hall
Grace Summers, a freshmen, practices a serve at the Darlings Courts Tues. March 31 during the Panthers tennis practice.


Having played tennis for almost eleven years now, she said her brother was her inspiration to start playing.

‘’I became interested in tennis because of my brother. After watching him play, I decided that I wanted to play also,’’ Summers said. ‘’I like it because of the high intensity and that every match is different, in that everyone has a different game style.’’

Summers brings her own game style to her matches, and said her strength within the team is in her doubles matches.

Summers and her partner, Sephora Boulbahaiem, have an overall record of 7-5 for doubles matches thus far in their season. In the singles spectrum, Summers has an overall record of 8-7.

Summers’ transition from high school tennis in Cordova, Tenn. to collegiate tennis was not as hard as she thought it would be, because she had to balance tennis practices and games with her homework then as well.

‘’They have been extremely helpful and really helped me settle into college,” Summers said. “They are always there to take me places and help me with my homework or anything.”

The Eastern women’s tennis team has an overall team record of 11-4 so far this season.

Being a Division I athlete has its struggles, but Summers has always been able to overcome them and play to the best of her abilities and remember what the sport is all about.

‘’I have struggled with staying focused during practice sometimes, because I am tired or practice just feels long,” she said. “I just have to focus on having fun and working hard.”

Drawn to Eastern by the indoor and outdoor tennis facilities, Summers said the team is what helped her decide to join the team.

Eastern women’s tennis coach John Blackburn also had an impact on her decision.

‘’Coach Blackburn is a great coach and everything he does is to make the team better,’’ Summers said.

Coach Blackburn has only positive things to say about Summers.

“Grace is very good in match play. She is at her best on game day and competes very well in both singles and doubles,” he said. “She has a strong game at the net, it’s pretty rare for a freshman to play No. 1 doubles, but she has done a great job there this year.’’

Blackburn is impressed with Summers’ past performances as well, performances that earned her EIU student-athlete of the week.

Summers won all three of her matches against Murray State, winning her the honor. She is also part of the No. 1 doubles team for Eastern.

 ‘’She played well against some very good players last week,” Blackburn said. “Grace always welcomes a challenge and does a good job competing against strong players.’’

Summers impressed Blackburn with her competitive spirit, a key factor in Eastern tennis recruiting.

‘’I was impressed watching Grace compete well against some very good players in USTA junior tournaments and she really enjoys playing in competition, which are big things we look for in recruiting.’’ Blackburn said.

Summers’s goals for the rest of this season are simple.

‘’I just want to play my best tennis and to win conference this year,” she said.

With her competitive nature and her focus on being the best student-athlete she can be, Summers will be a key factor in an Ohio Valley Championship for Eastern Illinois.

Maria Baldwin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].