Long road trip ahead for women’s tennis team

Dillan Schorfheide, Women's Tennis Reporter

Eastern’s women’s tennis team has less time to celebrate its first two victories than it normally would because the Panthers have to get ready for three matches this weekend, instead of the usual two matches.

Eastern plays Indiana Friday, Bradley Saturday and Indianapolis Sunday.

This marks the first and only time this season the team has three matches in three days, and the first time the Panthers have a match on a Friday.

After starting the season 0-5, Eastern won both of its matches Saturday and Sunday against Western Illinois and Saint Louis.

The big focus for the team going into those matches was winning the doubles point, after three of the matches Eastern lost could have been changed by winning the doubles point, Interim Director of Tennis Sam Kercheval has pointed out.

In the two wins this past weekend, Eastern’s three duos of freshmen Rachel Papavasilopoulos and Karla Contreras, senior Grace Summers and sophomore Stella Cliffe, and freshman Claire Martin and junior Srishti Slaria all won both days of their doubles competitions.

For her performance over the weekend, including her two singles wins, Cliffe was named the OVC Women’s Tennis Player of the Week.

She rides that title into this weekend for both her singles and doubles competitions as she and her team face the longest stretch of competition yet over one weekend.

Friday, the Panthers start their road journey by going to Bloomington, Ind. to face Indiana University.

The Hoosiers had an almost exact opposite start to their spring season, riding a six-match win streak to start 6-0.

Eastern is not the only opponent for Indiana on Friday, though, as Indiana will first play an OVC rival Eastern Kentucky at 1 p.m., before hosting the Panthers at 6:30 that evening.

Eastern’s task of defeating Indiana is made tougher by the fact that not only is Indiana undefeated at home, but that is where every match of theirs has been this season.

On Saturday, Eastern will travel back to Illinois to face the Bradley Braves in Peoria at 2 p.m.

Bradley has a younger season than Eastern and Indiana, with only four matches plated and a 2-2 record. Its two wins came against Northern Illinois and Chicago State, with its two losses coming against Wisconsin and another OVC rival of Eastern’s, Southeast Missouri.

Finally, on Sunday, Eastern closes its big road trip by going back into Indiana, this time Indianapolis, to face the University of Indianapolis.

The Greyhounds are in the earliest stage of its season out of Eastern’s three opponents of the weekend, only playing two matches, but winning both of them.

The Greyhounds’ two victories come against Valparaiso and Butler. Indiana also beat Butler.

The match on Sunday is set for noon.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]