Eastern women’s tennis team looking to break losing streak


File Photo

Sophomore Rachel Papavasilopoulos serves a ball in a practice this fall at the Darling Courts.

Blake Faith, Women's Tennis Reporter

Eastern’s women’s tennis team is focused on regaining momentum, after losing its last four matches, this upcoming weekend in Milwaukee. The main focus in practice, according to head coach Chris Tolson, was going to be on “their mental game and how their approach to these matches are.”

“It’s easy to get on a losing streak and lose some confidence where things can spiral out of control,” Tolson said. “So this week’s focus is belief in one’s ability and game and to trust their skills, their teammates and their coaches. I have no doubt we will get this turned around this weekend and build some momentum heading into our final few matches before conference play.”

Sophomore Claire Martin started off the season with three straight wins but has not won in singles since her win at number four singles against Saint Louis University. Martin is not letting those results get to her, but instead she has used them as motivation.

“This weekend, I want to play with confidence and aggressive,” Martin said. “I’m not going to focus on the wins the losses, but more on how I feel while playing. I think I’ve been in a bit of a slump, so I’m excited to see how this weekend goes and if I can apply what I’ve been working on in practice to my matches.”

Doubles points have been emphasized this year. Another focus this week in both singles and doubles practice has been consistency and shot selection. The first three matches of each meet are doubles, and winning two of three doubles matches secure a point for the winning team early.

“Doubles is important, and we have seen so great play at times, but we have not been aggressive enough in these past few matches at net, and it shows in the results,” Tolson said.

Sophomore Rachel Papavasilopoulos and senior Srishti Slaria have been at the number one singles spot all season. This season together they are 6-1 so far at that spot.

“Our goal is to play our next few matches with the intent to control momentum,” Papavasilopoulos said. “Srishti and I are continuing working on playing aggressively at net. We are trying to make points as short and effective as possible.”

Although conference play does not start until March 22nd against Jacksonville State, every match prior counts as momentum going into conference play and qualifying for the OVC Conference Tournament. These early matches will continue to build confidence going throughout the season.

“I feel like we are working a lot on trying to set up points and dominate the court,” Papavasilopoulos said. “For this weekend I’m hoping to win as many matches as possible both individually and as a team.”

Martin had a similar thought to Papavasilopoulos.

“I think the whole team wants to get a win this weekend, Martin said. “The past two weekends have been tough, so I think we need to go in focused this weekend so we can play well and overcome any doubts we have.”

Eastern’s women’s tennis team will travel to Milwaukee this weekend to compete against Cardinal Stritch University and the University of Milwaukee. The Panthers will play Cardinal Stritch at noon on Friday and Milwaukee on Saturday at 1 p.m.

“Like every match and weekend I expect our girls to come out and play with energy,” Tolson said. “They have the talent to compete with every team, but it’s the attitude and effort you put into every point and ball that will determine if we find success this weekend.”

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