Women’s tennis team opens OVC play with win

Parker Valentine, Women's Tennis Reporter

The Eastern women’s tennis team opened OVC play against Jacksonville State Friday and cruised to a 6-1 win.

With that victory, the Panthers started off conference play on a good note, as the remainder of their schedule will be against OVC opponents.

Although they did defeat Jacksonville State, the Panthers could not finish off Drake in their final non-conference match of the season March 12. The Panthers claimed the doubles point early, but the top half of their singles line up could not secure the Panther victory.

Freshman Stella Cliffe and Senior Kelly Iden started off doubles play for the Panthers. The duo defeated Junior Tess Herder and sophomore Kenya Williams in a tie break, 7-6 (2).

Junior Grace Summers was back in action last Sunday. Summers was inactive for the previous meet against DePaul. A bit of rust showed for Summers, she and doubles partner senior Kamile Stadalninkaite were defeated by sophomore Joely Lomas and freshman Alex Kozlowski 6-2.

Freshman Emily Pugachevsky and sophomore Srishti Slaria secured the doubles point for the Panthers. They defeated juniors Summer Brills and Mela Jaglarz 6-3.

Singles play started off rough for the Panthers. The first four spots in Coach Emily Wang’s were defeated. The Panther’s line up was a bit different for singles.

Cliffe started things off from the No.1 spot for the first time this spring. Her match with junior Summer Brills was the longest of the day by far. The two athletes duked it out in two different 7-6 tie breaks as Brills went on to eventually earn victory (7-6[5], 7-6[1]).

Senior Kelly Iden, Summers, and senior Maria Moshteva followed Cliffe in the 2, 3, and 4 spots respectively.

The Panthers’ first singles victory on the day came from Pugachevsky. She defeated junior Mela Jaglarz (7-5, 6-3). Stadalninkaite followed that up with a singles victory of her own. The senior defeated freshman Alex Kozlowski (6-2, 6-3).

Although spring break started out a bit rough, the Panthers found success 5 days later in Jacksonville, Ala. That victory snapped a two-meet losing streak and give them a 1-0 OVC record.

Due to inactive players and injuries sustained by the Gamecocks, the Panthers notched two no contest wins in singles, as well as a no contest victory in doubles. The Panthers split the doubles matches that were played.

Cliffe and Iden started doubles play for the Panthers. The freshman/senior duo was defeated by freshman Diana Monsalve and junior Genevie Ulanday.

The Panthers’ most experienced doubles team had their back though. Summers and Stadalninkaite defeated the freshmen team of Malin Buechner and Alba Conejero. 

In singles, Coach Wang went back to her more traditional line up against the Gamecocks. Iden started things off from her No. 1 spot. She defeated Ulanday in three sets, winning (7-5, 5-7, 6-2).

Stella Cliffe followed Iden with a three-set match of her own. Cliffe was defeated by fellow freshman Monsalve (6-4, 3-6, 6-1). Summers defeated Conejero in the third of four three set matches on the day (7-6[3], 6-7[7], 7-5).

Moshteva finished active singles play for the Panthers with a victory over Buechner in the fourth three-set match of the day (4-6, 6-4, 6-4). Pugachevsky and Stadalninkaite both notched singles wins by default as well, as the Gamecocks did not have the depth to field those matches.

The Panthers continue their OVC schedule Wednesday, at SIUE. Their first matches begin in Edwardsville, at 1 p.m.

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