Women’s tennis facing familiar foes this weekend

Parker Valentine, Women's Tennis Reporter

The Panthers are coming into this weekend having earned consecutive sweeps in their previous two events. They defeated both Bradley and IUPUI by scores of 7-0.

The Panthers will be in Macomb this Saturday to face Western Illinois, then travel to Champaign to take on the Illini.

These are familiar opponents for the Panthers as they competed against both teams in the 2016 spring season. The results of their matches last season were completely different though, as the Illini in their season opener 7-0 defeated them.

Junior Grace Summers faced the only defeat of her sophomore spring season against the Illini. Summers finished with a record of 20-1, winning 20 straight on the season.

“We played Illinois last year and they did not graduate and (their) starters so we have a good idea of what to expect this weekend,” coach Emily Wang said.

Two meets later against Western, they earned a victory by the same margin, as they swept the Leathernecks 7-0. The Panthers had five athletes compete in that event that are still competing at Eastern.

Sophomores Abby Carpenter and Shristi Slaria both earned wins for the Panthers in their first collegiate season. The win for Carpenter was the first spring win and match of her collegiate career.

Summers and senior Kelly Iden also found success at that event as they both notched wins in doubles. The Panthers understand though, that a new season brings new challenges to every event.

“We are looking forward to another great weekend of tennis. We will focus in practice, have high energy and continue to improve,” Iden said. “Our winning streak to-date, strong doubles success, as well as individual success in all positions gives us the added motivation for upcoming matches.”

With the top four spots of the lineup seemingly solidified for the season, expect to see familiar faces coming out of the top four. Iden is at No. 1, Summer at No. 2, with freshman Stella Cliffe and Slaria holding down No. 3 and No. 4 respectively.

Wang has changed up her last two singles positions over the first few matches. As the season progresses expect to see more changes at those spots.

“We are going to prepare as we do every week but the biggest factor for us is focusing on our game and our strategies and controlling what is controllable,” Wang said.

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