Eastern’s tennis teams complete alumni weekend


Sean Hastings

Sophomore Stella Cliffe returns the ball to freshman Karla Contreras during practice on Sept. 21 at the Darling Courts. The Eastern tennis teams hosted its annual alumni match over the weekend.

Parker Valentine, Tennis Reporter

The Eastern tennis teams had its annual alumni matches at the Darling Courts Saturday.

Alums that graduated from Eastern in many different decades flocked to Charleston over the weekend. Some of alumni’s graduation dates back to the 1970’s, others graduated as recently as spring 2017.

Ron Easter, a Charleston native and member of Eastern’s 1977 graduating class, was at the matches, as he has been multiple times in the past.

“I was born and grew up a block and a half from here, so I always loved Eastern. I always came to the campus pond when I was a little kid and fished, I played in the gyms, so it was only natural that I come here for college,” Easter said.

Easter went to Charleston high school and after graduating from Eastern he worked as a biology teacher at Charleston High School for over 20 years before retiring recently.

Easter started his Eastern career in the mid-70s, when Eastern was going through serious budgeting problems.

Tennis was not a sport at Eastern during his sophomore or junior year of school. It was disbanded in a mass budget cut.

Easter played for the Panthers during his senior year, the first year after the tennis resurgence.

A more recent Eastern grad, Kamile Stadalninkaite, played with five of the eight current athletes on Eastern’s women’s team during her time at Eastern.

“It’s a different feeling, it feels really relaxing to be on the other side of the whole thing, when you come back you can just appreciate the atmosphere and look back on your four years here,” Stadalninkaite said. “I’m going to come back until I’m 60 years old.”

Senior Jared Woodson is in his last year with the Panthers and said his view of alumni weekend has changed greatly since his freshman year.

“We don’t see some of these people for months or even years. The moment you see them you can give them you go back the good times,” Woodson said. “As soon as we see each other and catch up, it’s like nothing ever changed.”

For freshman Claire Martin, the alumni matches were the first of her Panther career.

“This event shows how much of a community this really is, it’s like wow, I just played with a guy that played here forty years ago,” Martin said.

The guy she is referring to is Easter. They teamed up for a very competitive doubles match Saturday, ending 4-3 with two sets going to tie breaks.

The matches were the first of freshman Logan Charbonneau’s Panther career as well. Charbonneau said the competitive nature of the event was a bit surprising to him.

“Everyone has that competitive edge to them from playing D-1 sports, whether it was 10 years ago or two years ago,” Charbonneau said.

Charbonneau said one piece of advice from Saturday resonated with him in particular.

The alum that gave him that advice was Easter.

“You have to appreciate the bad times just as much as you appreciate the good, that’s what makes it a team game,” Charbonneau said.

Parker Valentine can be reached at 

581-2812 or [email protected]