A 2-0 conference start came to an abrupt end for the Eastern women’s tennis team Friday when the Panthers were shutout 7-0 against Eastern Kentucky.
The Colonels (9-8, 4-0) dominated nearly every facet of the match between the two conference foes, while also taking another commanding win over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville 7-0 on Saturday to advance its OVC positioning.
But for Eastern (8-10, 2-1), the loss puts the team back after getting ranked as high as second place in the conference before the weekend.
Players on the team and Interim Director of Tennis Samuel Kercheval said Friday’s match would be important, with Kercheval adding that Eastern Kentucky is probably the favorite to win conference and the match would show the team where they stand.
From the start of the match Friday, the Colonels had control.
Eastern Kentucky won all three doubles matches to secure the doubles point and jump ahead 1-0. Two of Eastern’s duos came close to getting wins: senior Grace Summers and sophomore Stella Cliffe lost to Eastern Kentucky’s Alexandra Belle and Lisa Friess 7-6 at No. 1 doubles, and at No. 3 doubles, freshman Claire Martin and junior Srishti Slaria lost to Laura Argente and Raquel Montalvo 7-5.
Kercheval said the team had its chances to the doubles point but never capitalized.
Almost nothing would then go right for Eastern in the singles portion of the contest.
Martin came the closest out of any other Panther to winning her singles match, taking her opponent to a three-set tiebreaker.
Martin dropped the first set 6-1 to her opponent Margaux Lacroix. To make a comeback in the second set, Martin defeated Lacroix 6-4 before dropping a close third set 10-6.
“Claire is one of the most coachable players I’ve ever worked with,” Kercheval said. “She will try her best to do anything you ask of her. So after the first set when I wanted her to change the strategy and suggested something different, she bought in right away and went out to execute it which I think helped.”
Two other Panthers came decently close to winning a set and taking their respective matches to a third set.
Slaria lost her first set by only two points, 6-4, before losing the second set 6-3.
Like Martin, Summers made her comeback effort in the second set. Summers was blanked 6-0 in the first set but fought back and made her opponent, Kristina Lagoda, earn her second set victory 7-6.
The other three Panthers lost their matches by an average of 4.33 points per set, and overall, the team lost their matches by an average of 3.77 points per set.
Kercheval said Eastern Kentucky is a very good and consistent team, but he is confident that the Panthers are not that far behind.
“We just need to compete and believe in ourselves and our teammates a bit more,” he said.
This weekend, the Panthers will get their second chance to host their first true home match, after Eastern’s match against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville scheduled to be at the Darling Tennis Courts on Tuesday was played in Terre Haute due to weather concerns.
Friday, Eastern hosts Belmont at 2 p.m. and Saturday Eastern hosts Tennessee State at the same time.
Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]