Kelly Iden making history at ITA Regional

Parker Valentine, Women's Tennis Reporter

The diversity in class of the Panther players at this year’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional at Michigan State University, shows the depth of the Eastern women’s tennis team this year.

Senior Kelly Iden, junior Grace Summers and freshman Stella Cliffe are attending the meet.

Iden has already qualified for the main draw, making history as the first Panther woman to do so. Summers and Cliffe are playing in qualifying matches to make the main draw on Thursday, they will be required to win three straight singles matches in order to qualify.

Summers, the No. 3 seed earned a bye in the first round as a result of her seeding.

This is Cliffe’s first college regional as a freshman. In her first season of collegiate tennis, Cliffe finished with a record of 3-6 in singles play and a fourth place finish in flight two at the Bradley Invite.

Summers and Iden will both be giving Cliffe advice on how to prepare for the event. Both athletes competed in last year’s ITA regional at the University of Michigan. The pair qualified after winning three straight matches. Those victories last year were also a bit of history as no Panther woman had ever done that before.

This is the third straight regional invite for Summers and Iden.

Summers and Iden will be playing doubles together for the first time in their three years at Eastern.

Iden begins singles play Friday for her historic first match. Summers and Iden will begin doubles play on Friday as well.

“I look forward to the high-level competition and getting off to a fast start,” Iden said.

It is business as usual for Coach Emily Wang, Iden and Summers.

“We do not worry about the draws, we have focused on Kelly and Grace’s game and how they are going to play this week and we will be ready to adjust to the opponent.” Wang said.

Making history was just the start for Summers and Iden as they look to go deeper in the tournament than they have ever gone.

“I am going to lay everything out on the court and hopefully I can make it further than last year,” Summers said.

The other teams that will be in attendance include: Akron, Bowling Green, Chicago State, Cleveland State, DePaul, Detroit, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Illinois, Michigan, Northern, Toledo, Valparaiso, Western Michigan, Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Youngstown State, and the host Spartans.

Singles play begins at 9 a.m. Thursday and doubles play begins Friday at 2 p.m. After the Semi- and Quarterfinal rounds the winners will be decided in the doubles final Monday morning, with the singles final Tuesday morning.

The winner will be rewarded with an automatic entry into the United States Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships that will take place from Nov. 3 to 6, in Flushing, N.Y.

This will be the last tournament of the fall season for the Eastern women’s tennis team, and they will begin preparation for the spring season shortly there after.

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