Women’s tennis team heading to Bradley for seven-team meet

Parker Valentine, Women's Tennis Reporter

The Panthers have their most active meet of the season this weekend, facing a total of seven different opponents. That total is two more than they have faced all year and the meet will take the entire weekend to complete.

The teams in attendance are St. Louis, Bradley and Western, who the Panthers have already taken the court against in the past two weeks. Along with those three are the Chicago State Cougars, DePaul Blue Demons, Northern Illinois Huskies and rival Illinois State.

Junior Grace Summers and freshman Shelby Anderson both come into the invite undefeated winning their first flights of the season last week at the SIUC fall classic. They both look to build upon their success so far this season at Bradley.

Although Eastern’s combined record against the field is not the greatest (45-72) the Panthers will be the first to remind anyone this is a new year and a new team with high aspirations.

Illinois State boasts the thinnest roster fielding only five players. The roster contains two juniors, as well as one sophomore, senior and freshman. Junior Veronika Golanova leads the Redbirds with one of the most dominant doubles records in 2015.

Golanova finished last year with a doubles record of 29-9, and she went 13-2 with partner senior Marcia Tere-Apisah dominating the competition.

The Chicago State Cougars come into this event filled with upperclassmen and foreign players. They field only one freshman and one sophomore. They are coached by Jack Barton, who is in his eighth season as head coach.

The DePaul roster is also a bit of a foreign affair with six of the eight players coming from different parts of Europe. Junior Keisha Clousing and sophomore Marina Cozac are the only players of American descent and both are from Illinois; Clousing is from Wheaton and Cozac is from Chicago. They have a diverse group in terms of where they are in collegiate careers with multiple players at every grade level.

The Blue Demons are coached by Mark Ardizzone, who has coached the team for over two decades, as he enters his 21st season. He has been the head coach at DePaul since 1995. To put that in perspective, he started coaching in Lincoln Park before the vast majority of these players were even born.

Northern Illinois is a bit more home grown with half the roster being from the Midwest, compared to the rest of the field who has a majority of their players of foreign decent. They also field players from both Africa (senior Pauline Chawafambira from Zimbabwe and junior Michelle Erasmus from Johannesburg, South Africa) and Europe. They are coached by Tanya Gombera who, unlike Ardizzone, is relatively new to the program, entering her second year.

The invite starts at 10 a.m. on Friday with matches to be played both at the Bradley University David Marking tennis courts as well as ICC courts in east Peoria.

Parker Valentine can be reached at 581-2812 at [email protected].