Tennis freshman ready for OVC Championship weekend


Jason Howell

Freshman Abby Carpenter defeated Belmont’s Mical Johnson 2-6, 6-2, 10-4 in singles play on April 1 at the Darling Courts. Carpenter accrued a 7-2 overall record during the regular season.

Maria Baldwin, Staff Reporter

Freshman Abby Carpenter said she wants an Ohio Valley Conference championship for her team more than anything.

“Conference is this weekend, and it decides it all,” Carpenter said. “We’re looking to win it; we’ve been competitive with every team we’ve played. We’re the fourth seed now but every match we’ve lost it’s just been by one match.”

Eastern has a chance to win it, as the team has competed well with their fellow conference contenders all season.

Recently, the Panthers lost by a close 4-3 margin against Eastern Kentucky and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

“The top four teams are all the biggest competition, like Tennessee-Martin, SIU-E, and Eastern Kentucky,” Carpenter said. “We’ve all be beating each other all season in conference matchups. Tennessee-Martin is the No. 1 seed, and we will be playing them in the second round if we get past Austin Peay.”

Carpenter had a strong showing against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville earlier this season when she brought in a victory with a strong 6-3, 6-0 outing from the No. 6 position.

Against Belmont, Carpenter had a come-from-behind three set victory 2-6, 6-2, 10-4.

Going into the conference championships, Carpenter has an overall record of 7-2, and is 5-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

As for Eastern, they are going into conference play with an overall record of 13-7, and an Ohio Valley Conference record of 7-3.

Eastern is in good shape heading into the OVC Championships based on their performances last weekend against Morehead State, winning 7-0.

Carpenter had a game to note, as she recorded a two-set sweep at the No. 6 spot defeating Morehead State’s Lindsey Wild 6-0, 6-0.

“They were tough matches last weekend,” Carpenter said. “I did well and I think our whole team did well; we fought every match and we had good attitudes during. Everybody fought their hardest in their matches and we only lost by one match but what I need to work on is making less errors in the beginning. Overall, everybody did really well and we plan to take that momentum into conference.”

The Panthers have been working hard in practice, Carpenter said, and one might even notice their practices look like matches against each other every day.

“We work a lot on competing with each other at practice,” Carpenter said. “We work a lot on skill development too, and different days we will work on singles or doubles play. Every day is different really, but leading up to a match we work just as hard.”

Even on the days leading up to big matches on the weekends, Carpenter said the intensity of the practices does not slow down.

“The day before a big match we will usually play against each other at practice to get into that mental mindset to work on what it will be like over the weekend,” Carpenter said. “We don’t take it easier at practice, we actually start to compete more.”

Adjusting to the higher level of skill that she saw in her first couple of matches is what Carpenter found the most difficult in her time adjusting to life as a Division I athlete.

“In high school, not every match would be a good match; sometimes I would be playing someone at a different level than me,” Carpenter said. “Now, every single match I play is going to be a tough match because everybody’s good at playing tennis.”

Carpenter said what brought her to Eastern was the tennis program, as it has been known to be a program on the rise.

“I really liked the tennis coach,” Carpenter said. “Eastern isn’t too far from my house, only like two hours away. I really liked the campus size too, but I mostly came here because the tennis program has done well, and the girls on the team were great.”

When it comes to her goals for the rest of the season, Carpenter said she takes it day-by-day and match-by-match.

“I just want to improve the best I can,” Carpenter said. “I also want to do well academically. For conference, I just want to play the best I can, and I would love the team to win conference. We have a real chance of winning.”

Having started playing tennis competitively at age 10, Carpenter has had experience and says she is ready to see the level she can take her game to in her next three years at Eastern.

“My favorite part about tennis is going out there and getting to compete,” Carpenter said. “You can prove yourself on the court and show everything that you’ve worked for all year and it’s also an individual sport, with a team aspect.”


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