Women’s tennis team opens season

Parker Valentine, Women's Tennis Reporter


Eastern’s women’s tennis team began its fall season over the weekend at the SIUE fall invitational, still without a head coach.

In fall tournaments, play is divided into multiple groups called flights. The reason the tournament has flights is due to the fact that many schools are in attendance. Eight different teams attended the SIUE invite.

After seeding was decided, play began. Eastern finished the tournament with two athletes having made the final of their respective flight.

Sophomore Emily Pugachevsky made the Flight B championship, while freshman Karla Contreras made, and won, the Flight C championship match.

After defeating Alexa Brandt of Bradley (6,2 6,2), Pugachevsky went on to defeat Western Illinois senior Courtney Lubbers (7-6, 6-1).

In the championship round Pugachevsky faced off against conference foe Anne-Christine Link of SIUE. Link defeated Pugachevsky (6-3, 6-2).

In Flight C, Contreras opened tournament play Friday with a win. Contreras defeated Maria Bessmertnaya of Western (6-1, 6-2). She then defeated Ariana Rodriguez of SLU (6-1, 6-4) in the semis, advancing to the flight championship.

The championship was the most competitive match of Contreras’ young career as a Panther. It was also her introduction to the SIUE/EIU rivalry.

After losing the first set of the match 3-6 to sophomore Lara Tupper, Contreras tied the match in the second set 6-2. This led to a 22 point third set, which Contreras won by two points, defeating Tupper (3-6, 6-2, 12-10).

SIUE and EIU have had two of the more successful women’s tennis programs in the OVC in recent years. The two faced off in the OVC spring tournament last year, with No. 1 ranked SIUE defeating EIU by their closest margin of the season, winning 2-4.

The Panthers’ next match with the Cougars is set for March 20th at the Darling Courts in Charleston.

On the doubles circuit, sophomore Stella Cliffe and freshman Rachel Papvasilopoulus found a bit of success as well.

The duo placed third in doubles, beating yet another SIUE team. They defeated Morgan Steffes and Tupper (6-2), in the Flight A doubles bracket.

“We worked well to figure out each other’s strengths, we worked well as a team. We did well to come to the net together and sort out our combinations,” said Cliffe, speaking on the doubles match.

The Panthers’ next event of the fall season is set for two weeks from now. The Panthers head to Peoria Sept. 22 for Bradley’s annual fall tournament.

It is a multiple team event just like the SIUE invite. The Panthers will see multiple teams that they will play again in the spring.

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