Women’s tennis team finds success at Illinois State


Dillan Schorfheide

Senior Abby Carpenter returns a hit during the Eastern women’s tennis team’s practice at the Darling Courts on Aug. 31.

Blake Faith, Women's Tennis Reporter

The Eastern women’s tennis team kept the momentum going this weekend posting an overall 20-8 record at the Illinois State University Fall Invite. The Panthers won two singles flights and two double flights in the process. 

“The first takeaway from this weekend is we accomplished our goals for the event,” Head Coach Chris Tolson said. “We won each doubles point and we have improved from the first tournament to this one. 

Rachel Papavasilopoulos continued her undefeated record on the season, going 3-0 in her singles flight, and has a fall singles record of 6-0. 

“It feels great to have won another singles flight, but I need to make sure that I keep working hard and without getting too overconfident going into my next matches,” Papavasilopoulos said. “I need to keep trusting my game as well as what my coaches are telling me to do.”

Emily Pugachevsky also continued her undefeated record finishing 3-0 in the No. 4 flight. After a three-set victory in the opening dual match against Southern Illinois Edwardsville, Pugachevsky had back-to-back straight set wins to push her fall singles record to 6-0.

“I feel that I just need to go into my next matches the same way I did before by just taking it one point at a time and not thinking about the winning streak,” Pugachevsky said. “If I go into my next matches thinking about my win streak and how to keep it up, then I will probably become more nervous and think about winning rather than building every point and playing the match right. I just need to maintain my focus throughout the match and close off the matches quicker.”

Srishti Slaria  posted a 2-1 record this weekend, pushing her fall record to 5-1. Losing her first match of the weekend, Slaria would finish with two strong wins to end her weekend in singles.

“I think it was a really good weekend for me with a lot of wins, which has given me more confidence for the coming matches,”Slaria said. “Even then, there are a few things I want to improve on. I think the biggest one is stepping inside the court and moving in towards the net to finish off the point. The coaches have been very supportive and helpful, and I look forward to working with them.”

Papavasilopoulos also won at the No. 1 pair along Slaria going 3-0 in their flight and winning the flight. 

“I think Rachel and I had very good communication while playing this weekend, and both of us were pretty successful in setting each other up at the net,” Slaria said. “It was a good experience since this was the first time both of us played together.”

The Panthers also won with their No. 3 pair of Karla Contreras and Abby Carpenter. The pair went 3-0 in doubles this weekend.

“It was a good weekend, thank God. Our confidence as a team is increasing. So, we’ll keep working hard,” Contreras said. ”The best is yet to come. There’s always a ball you can hit better, whether it is a forehand or a serve, overall improvement is what we are looking for, getting a little better every single day.”

Although this weekend’s event is the Eastern Alumni Match, the team is focused on the ITA Regionals at the University of Michigan. 

“Well, our schedule does not get easier heading into ITA’s,” Tolson said. “We will be playing the top 25 teams and players in the Nation at ITA’s. So I look at it as another opportunity for us to grow and get better. I will be looking at how we compete and what our mindset is for those higher rank teams.”

The Eastern women’s tennis team will play next at the Eastern Alumni Match Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Darling Courts.

Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]