Women’s tennis team welcomes many new faces to team

Parker Valentine, Tennis Reporter

The Eastern women’s tennis team will be seeing massive turnaround for the 2017 fall season.

Following the spring graduation of three large contributors to the team, Kelly Iden, Maria Moshteva and Kamile Stadalninkaite, the Panthers were going to have a different look to their team.

That look became a whole lot different over the summer.

Not only did senior Grace Summers make the decision to not return to Panther tennis, two-year head coach Emily Wang left the Eastern for New Mexico State.

Wang left Eastern (abruptly) having completed back to back fourteen win seasons, which is the first time the Panthers accomplished this feat since the 1993-1994 campaigns.

Both of Wang’s spring seasons led to OVC tournament births, which broke Eastern’s previous record of five, with six straight tourney appearances.

Her winning resume and coaching style earned her the head coaching job at New Mexico State University, which she officially gained on Aug. 4.

“In the short time she served as the head coach of the Eastern Illinois women’s tennis program, Emily Wang helped solidify the program and develop it into one of the best in the Ohio Valley Conference,” said Mark Bonnstetter, Eastern’s senior associate athletic director, in a press release to New Mexico State.

With all those departures, the Panthers are left without a coach, without any seniors and without any official lineups for the fall season.

Interviews for the vacant head coaching job started this week, as fall training begins next week.

Although turnaround will be large, the Panthers are still flush with returning talent.

Sophomores Stella Cliffe and Emily Pugachevsky had two of the more successful freshman spring seasons in Eastern’s history.

Cliffe finished tied with Iden for the most singles wins for the Panthers last spring, with a record of 14-7.

Pugachevsky finished the spring red hot, having won nine-straight matches. She went undefeated in OVC play, finishing with a record of 8-0.

Juniors Abby Carpenter and Srishti Slaria come in to fall 2017 as the most experienced athletes on the Panthers’ roster. They have completed three full seasons, as well as made three tournament appearances.

After finishing 7-3 her freshman year, Carpenter went undefeated in a reduced role with the Panthers as a sophomore.

The junior will have nothing close to a reduced role this year, as the Panthers will lean on their more experienced players to shoulder a load while lacking a head coach.

Slaria comes into her junior year with a career record of 22-15 with the Panthers. Slaria found doubles chemistry as a sophomore with Pugachevsky. The duo recorded a record of 9-6 when paired together.

Shelby Anderson is the other returning Panther for the 2017 season. Anderson played sparingly in the spring, as the Panthers had a large roster with only six singles spots.

In her lone singles match of the season, against Saint Francis, she was victorious. Anderson finished with a record of 2-3 in doubles, earning her doubles victories with Stadalninkaite and Summers.

Eastern has three new freshmen joining the roster. Karla Contreras, Claire Martin, and Rachel Papvasilopoulos will be the filling the vacant roster spots left by Summers, Iden, Moshteva and Stadalninkaite.

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