Panthers split weekend meets with Western

Parker Valentine, Women's Tennis Reporter

The Eastern women’s tennis team split its weekend matches, suffering its first loss of the season in the process and the two scores could not have been more different. The Panthers defeated Western 7-0 and lost to the Fighting Illini 7-0.

The Panthers dominated the whole event, sweeping the Leathernecks without losing a single match 7-0.

The tops four spots in coach Emily Wang’s lineup remained the same as they have been for the majority of the season. Senior Kelly Iden started singles action for her No. 1 spot, notching a win for the Panthers. Iden defeated junior Courtney Lubbers (6-3, 6-1) to improve her record to (at the time) 6-0 on the year.

Junior Grace Summers held down the No. 2 spot, defeating Natalia Bravo with an unblemished second set (6-3, 6-0). Freshman upstart Stella Cliffe also finished her match with a perfect second set. Cliffe defeated freshman Anna Daniel Fuentes (7-6, 6-0) to improve her record on the year to 6-0.

“I attribute my success to being on a team that is so supportive of each other and willing to work hard no matter what the day is, whether we are practicing or competing,” Cliffe said. “It has been so exciting to have been so successful this early on in my time here at Eastern. It only makes me want to work harder and continue the success we are having.”

Sophomore Shristi Slaria had another strong outing from her No. 4 spot. Slaria defeated junior Cary Milanes (6-1, 6-2). Senior Maria Moshteva completed an uphill battle from her No. 5 spot. Moshteva fell in her first set 6-1 before fighting through her second set and finishing strong, defeating freshman Laura Ballesteros (1-6, 7-6, 6-1).

Cliffe was not the only freshman that remained undefeated through Saturday. Freshman Emily Pugachevsky improved upon her unblemished record against Western, defeating senior Nicole Jones (6-4, 6-1).

Pugachesvky also remained undefeated in doubles through Saturday. She alongside partner Slaria, defeated Lubbers and Bravo (6-2). Iden and Cliffe won their doubles match as well, defeating Milanes and Daniel Fuentes (6-2). Summers and senior Kamile Stadalninkaite finished doubles play with the sweep, defeating Ballesteros and senior Jenna Wallace (6-0).

Sunday in Champaign was a different day though, with a much different outcome.

Iden and Cliffe were both handed their first losses of the season, but not without putting up a fight. Iden was defeated by senior Louise Kwong (6-3, 4-6, 1-0 [10-1]), Cliffe fell to sophomore Ines Vias (6-2, 7-6 (7-2).

Summers had the most competitive match of the day. The junior took sophomore Jaclyn Switkes to three sets before falling in a grueling tiebreak (6-4, 2-6, 1-0 [13-11]). Pugachevsky also tasted defeat for the first time this season as she was defeated by junior Jade Hilton (6-1, 6-3).

One was one bright spot for the Panthers coming out of Sunday’s matches though. The duo of Pugachevsky and Slaria remain undefeated on the season, as their match up against sophomore Daniela Pedraza Novak and senior Alexis Casati ended in a draw (4-4).

The Panthers look to bounce back next weekend against Saint Francis (ILL) on Friday, and against rival Illinois State on Sunday.

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