Four Panthers to compete in regional tournament

Parker Valentine, Tennis Reporter

The Midwestern ITA Regional tournament starts Thursday and Eastern is well represented.

The Panther’s women’s tennis team has four athletes in the tournament, which is being held at the University of Michigan.

The tourney is potentially a six-day event that goes from Thursday to Tuesday. It is an elimination bracket, though. If all Panthers are eliminated before the final, they will head back to Charleston when their last matches are completed.

Freshman Rachel Papavasilopoulos, sophomores Stella Cliffe and Emily Pugachevsky, and junior Shristi Slaria were all selected to take part in regionals.

Although the Panthers are still without a head coach, they traveled to Ann Arbor with a familiar face coaching them.

Eastern men’s tennis coach Sam Kercheval made the trip to Michigan with the Panthers yesterday, they headed to regionals a day early to acclimate to the environment and begin practicing for the event.

This is the first Midwest regional for three out of the four Panthers in attendance. Cliffe made the trip last year with recent graduate Kelly Iden and Grace Summers.

Cliffe finished spring play with a record of 16-7, primarily from the No. 3 spot. She has yet to earn a victory this fall.

Cliffe will be partnered with Papavasilopoulos in the doubles bracket.

Slaria and Pugachevsky will partner together for the doubles draw as well. Slaria finished last spring with a singles record of 11-9 earning the majority of her wins in conference play.

Pugachevsky finished 14-2 in singles and was undefeated in conference play at 8-0.

Slaria and Pugachevsky are very familiar with each other’s style when teamed up. The duo finished with a positive record of 7-6 in spring play.

Although this is her first time attending the event, Slaria is looking forward to the heightened level of competition.

“I’m going to go all out, try my best and give a good fight. It is going to be very competitive and I like that,” Slaria said.

She is also looking forward to competing with her teammates, the majority of whom are experiencing this for the first time as well.

“I’m happy that this time four people can go. We have a good chance to leave our mark up there,” Slaria said.

Play in the qualifying brackets began this morning, all Panthers are in action in the qualifiers. If they get past the qualifying rounds, they will advance individually to each of the next stages.

Each stage resumes play the day after the previous stage through Tuesday when the championship rounds commence.

The Panthers will be back in action as a unit, next weekend when they head to Normal for the Illinois State fall tournament. The Illinois State invite will conclude fall play for the Panthers.

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