Women’s tennis team finishes successful season



Freshman Stella Cliffe backhands the ball back to her Eastern Kentucky opponent March 24 at the Darling Courts. Cliffe picked up a win this weekend.

Parker Valentine, Women's Tennis Reporter

With the season over, the Panthers can reflect on finishing the spring campaign strong.

The team sent its seniors out in what coach Emily Wang called the hardest fought match she has ever seen her team play.

That match was the OVC championship semi-final against SIUE.

The Panthers were defeated in the match. They gave the Cougars the most competitive match they faced in the tournament though. The Cougars went on to their second-straight OVC title and an undefeated season.

Senior Kelly Iden will graduate in eighth place on the Panthers’ all-time career wins’ list in singles with 43. Iden earned her first All OVC Conference first team award this year.

It is her third All OVC award overall which makes her only the second Panther in school history to earn three All OVC awards in her career, the other is Janelle Prisner.

Her 30 wins from the No. 1 singles spot are fourth all time at Eastern. She finished her last spring season with a record of 14-6 in singles, going 6-3 in OVC play.

Stadalninkaite along with partner junior Grace Summers, led the Panthers in doubles play this year. The duo owned the Panthers best record in doubles this year at 11-5, going 5-2 in OVC play.

Summers was the other Panther named to the All OVC squad this year. She earned a second team nod for her season.

Summers went 13-5 in singles on the year with a record of 6-2 in conference play. She enters her senior year in a three-way tie for sixth place all time in singles wins as a Panther with 45.

They will retain six Panthers from this year and have a freshman class that just finished one of the most prolific seasons in Eastern tennis history for first year athletes.

Freshman Stella Cliffe started her first season as a Panthers on a hot streak. Along with Iden, Cliffe won her first six matches of the spring season.

She cooled off a bit mid-way through the season, but still finished with a positive record. Cliffe was also the only Panther to go undefeated in both singles and doubles play in the OVC tournament with a record of 4-0.

Cliffe was not the only prolific Panther freshman. Emily Pugachevsky had one of the best OVC seasons of any freshman in Panther history, going undefeated.

Pugachevsky finished with an overall record of 16-2. She went 9-0 in OVC play. She also found success in doubles play, where she was paired up with sophomore Shristi Slaria.

The duo won their first four matches after being paired together and finished with a positive record on the year.

Slaria had a bit of an up and down year. She found her touch when it mattered most though. The sophomore went on a four-match winning streak going into the conference tournament.

Slaria was one of the two athletes to gain a singles win against SIUE in the Panthers last match of the season.

Coach Wang has a class of three new freshmen joining the Panthers next season. They are coming from Florida, Panama, and the St. Louis area.

“I am excited to coach the incoming freshmen players. They are going to be a great fit to the team chemistry and they are going to be a high level, hard working group out on the court,” Wang said.

“I am excited to see what this team will do in the future. We are headed in a very positive direction.”

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