Women’s tennis improves over second half of season

Dillan Schorfheide, Women's Tennis Reporter

Doubles points were hard to come by for Eastern’s women’s tennis team during the first half of its spring season.

Coach Sam Kercheval has stressed the importance of winning the doubles point in the past, and he did so again earlier this season.

“The doubles point is always a big factor,” he said after Eastern lost to Illinois State and to Ball State in both matches of a doubleheader. In those three matches, if Eastern had won the doubles point, they could have won.

In the first half of the season, Eastern only won the doubles point three out of 12 times and had a 4-8 record.

“As a coach, there is always room for improvement, and that is something I constantly express to our players, is the never ending quest to improve,” Kercheval said. “But obviously, our doubles play got much better and really helped us in the back half of the season.”

In the second half of the season, Eastern won seven out of 12 doubles points. Then in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, Eastern won the doubles point against Jacksonville State in the first round and lost the point in the semifinal match against Eastern Kentucky.

The Panthers went 8-4 in the rest of the regular season and 13-13 overall, including the tournament. 

“The doubles improved throughout the season as we all became more comfortable playing with our partners and fighting for every win,” junior Abby Carpenter said.

Carpenter, along with fellow junior Srishti Slaria, will be seniors on the team next year and are looking to being the team’s leaders.

“Me and Srishti really want to step up by encouraging the younger girls to continue to work hard and push themselves, even during our upcoming off time,” Carpenter said. “We have a lot of returning players, so I feel as if our connections with one another are already there and can only grow stronger.”

Kercheval said everyone needs to individually work hard and up their own levels going into next year. Because senior Grace Summers, who now holds the Eastern record for most singles wins in a season, is graduating, he said everyone will have to step up and help fill the hole she will leave.

“That is no small feat, and we are going to have to have everyone improve to make up for that loss,” he said. “But they all know there is room to grow and we will work hard in the off-season to get them there.”

Kercheval added that he and assistant coach Kevin Hussey, the former coach of the Charleston High School tennis team, were proud of the way the team handled the year.

“There were some changes in coaches, uncertainty at times about how things would go, but they really embraced myself and Kevin coming in, which was commendable,” Kercheval said. “As coaches, we really appreciated that they let us in and bought in to what we were trying to do as a team.”

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