Men’s and women’s tennis finish fall seasons


Sean Hastings

Junior Abby Carpenter backhands a ball back to sophomore Emily Pugachevsky in practice at the Darling Courts Sept. 21. The Panthers are in their offseason getting ready for the spring season.

Parker Valentine, Tennis Reporter

As Eastern’s fall semester heads for a close, the men’s and women’s tennis teams have finished their fall schedules.

Eastern’s women’s team completed their entire fall season without a head coach, but after fall play ended Eastern did hire a new coach, Lois Alexis.

Alexis comes with championship pedigree from coaching both the men’s and women’s tennis teams at Jackson State.

In her time at Jackson State, Alexis led the men’s team to two straight conference championship appearances, with one championship victory.

She also led Jackson State’s women’s team to a HBCU Fall National Championship immediately before earning the job at Eastern, a job she refers to as a very prestigious position.

Alexis says the Panthers are a hardworking, talented group with a great sense of humor.

One aspect of the Panthers training regimen Alexis noticed needed some improvement when she arrived was cardio. She says cardio training has gotten much better since her arrival though.

“They have been working hard and showing signs that they want to get better. They are very hungry,” Alexis said.

The Panthers completed three fall invitationals as a unit. A select few also participated in the ITA Midwest Regional Tournament at the University of Michigan.

Junior Srishti Slaria, sophomores Stella Cliffe and Emily Pugachevsky and freshman Rachel Papavasilopoulos all competed in regionals.

They won a combined six matches in qualifying play. Papavasilopoulos earned three straight victories, qualifying for the main singles bracket, where she was defeated by Notre Dame’s Rachel Chong.

The women’s team starts its spring schedule Jan. 20 in Normal against Illinois State.

On the men’s circuit, coach Sam Kercheval says at times the team may have underperformed, but he did see progress from the Panthers throughout the year.

Two athletes Kercheval has noticed significant progress from are sophomores Freddie O’Brien and Gage Kingsmith.

“When they’re talking to me about their evaluation of their weekend, or what they’re thinking, they’re starting to say the things that we’ve been talking about. They are starting to feel like that it is actually making a difference,” Kercheval said.

Kingsmith and O’Brien both earned doubles wins in their last invite at Illinois State. Kingsmith with his partner senior Jared Woodson and O’Brien with senior Trent Reiman.

Reiman has been the Panthers’ most successful athlete of fall play. He earned at least one victory in all three of the Panthers’ matches this fall. He and O’Brien partnered up in doubles for a portion of fall, earning victories as well.

The Panthers commence spring play a bit before the women’s team. They will be in Bloomington taking on the University of Indiana on Monday, Jan. 15.

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