Panthers blank Belmont in road victory


Jason Howell

Senior Sephora Boulbahaiem, hits the ball during the Women’s tennis game on Oct. 6, 2014.

Bob Reynolds, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s tennis team has won its fourth game in a row Tuesday against Belmont.

The Panthers shutout Belmont, 4-0, after their top four singles players came out victorious at the APSU Indoor Tennis Center in Clarksville, Tenn.

The match was moved to Clarksville because of inclement weather in the Nashville, Tenn., area.

The Panthers have clinched a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference and are in second place in the conference standings.

Eastern coach John Blackburn said the Panthers are definitely happy with clinching a spot in the tournament.

“We want to keep going,” he said. “We really just want to compete at a high level this weekend, that is our biggest goal going in. “

The Panthers got off to a hot start after sophomore Kelly Iden defeated sophomore Lindsey Whitehead in straight sets 6-2, 7-6.

Eastern would add two more straight-set wins in their next two matches.

Junior Ali Foster continued to have success in singles matches as she defeated Laure Van Eeckhoudt 6-3, 6-4.

Freshman Grace Summers defeated sophomore Kendall Warren 7-6, 6-4.

In the No. 4 singles match, senior Sephora Boulbahaiem defeated sophomore Suzanna Stapler 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.

The fifth and sixth singles matches did not finish. Junior Hannah Kimbrough was leading Abbie Mather before the match ended and did not finish.

The same went for sophomore Kamile Stadalninkaite against Maddie Gilley. Stadalninkaite and Gilley were tied at four when the match ended.

Blackburn said he was impressed with the way his team stayed composed and found a way to come through against tough opponents.

Doubles matches were not needed in the match against Belmont.

Blackburn said winning the last two matches on the road gives his team momentum heading into the next two matches.

“We won two matches against solid teams in Jacksonville State and Belmont, who played very hard and well against us,” he said. “I think the team has experienced success in tight matches, which is a big confidence boost.”

The Panthers will play its final two games of the regular season, and it will be senior weekend, and Blackburn said these next two games are important.

“There is always a lot to play for,” he said. “I think trying sending Sephora out on a high note, who has meant so much to our team, is a big motivation for all of us.”

The Panthers are coming off a long road trip in which they played their last five matches on the road.

Blackburn said it will be great to be back at home.

“It was a weird year in the schedule in that we played the third weekend in March at home and haven’t been back home since in conference play,” he said. “It will be great to play here, hopefully in front of a lot of friends and family.”

The Panthers will face Morehead State Friday and Eastern Kentucky Saturday. Both matches will start at 10 a.m. at Darling Courts.

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