Women’s tennis team sees top competition in tournament


Dillan Schorfheide

Eastern junior Emily Pugachevsky returns a ball in a practice this fall at the Darling Courts. Pugachevsky lost her opening match at the ITA Regional Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mi.

Blake Faith, Women's Tennis Reporter

The Eastern women’s tennis team showed their worth Thursday and Friday in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regionals at the University of Michigan. 

A common theme throughout the Regionals was that this team was able to compete with the bigger programs throughout the nation.

Sophomores Rachel Papavasilopoulos and Claire Martin both picked up wins in their opening match in the qualifying draw before losing in their second matches of the regional.

Papavasilopoulos beat Zoe Taylor of Notre Dame in the opening match.  In her second match Papavasilopoulos lost to seeded player Luna Dormet of Ohio State.

“I’m happy with my performance; I competed well against big schools,” Papavasilopoulos said. “The confidence boost of knowing I can beat some of the top girls in the country is enough motivation to carry me through the rest of the season.”

Martin won her opening match of the draw over Cassandra Moraleja of Youngstown State. Martin went on to lose her second match to Kristina Pukhaeva of Chicago State.

“I went in with a positive attitude, ready to play bigger competition,” Martin said.  “I had nothing to lose, so I went out and played my game.“

Senior Srishti Slaria and junior Emily Pugachevsky both lost their opening regional matches. Slaria lost to seeded player Davina Nguyen of Michigan State. Pugachevsky lost to Iesha Shepherd of Chicago State.

“My mindset going into the ITAs was to put in my best and play with a free mind,” Slaria said. “When I found out I was playing a Michigan State player, I told myself that I just need to focus on myself and that I have nothing to lose. It was a great experience at the ITAs, and we as a team will only build up from here.”

In doubles, Papavasilopoulos and Martin beat the doubles team from Detroit, before losing to a seeded doubles team from Northwestern. Slaria and Pugachevsky played as the other doubles team, falling in their opening match to a seeded Wisconsin duo.

“I realized I need to spend more time in doubles and working on my time of serve and EIU tennis can compete well with larger schools,” Martin said. “I need to stay focused on my goals in order to keep myself match-ready. Just because this is one of the last tournaments of the fall, the season is just beginning. The spring is always closer than it appears to be.”

Srishti Slaria had a similar thought to Martin.

“The biggest takeaway for me was that I’m as good, if not better than the players from these big schools,” Slaria said. “My singles match was close against the Michigan State girl, and in doubles we almost had Northwestern. So, I think, it shows me that I can be where they are and that I just need to believe in myself and my game.”

The team has had a momentous start to their season. Their overall record in singles this fall is 22-12. While there is one invite left this fall, the team looks to keep gaining momentum. 

Head coach Chris Tolson, while proud in his team’s abilities, knows that there is work to be done.

“I think the big takeaway from this weekend is knowing we can compete with the best teams in the nation,” Tolson said. “This week we are going to work on small issues in everyone’s game to see if we can compete at a higher level for a little longer.”

The women’s tennis team will play next on Oct. 27th at the Western Michigan Fall Invite.

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