Eastern to play Chicago State, Detroit Mercy


File Photo

Rachel Papavasilopoulos hits a back-handed shot in the middle of a volley with Emily Pugachevsky during practice at the Darling Courts in October 2018.

Blake Faith, Women's Tennis Reporter

Eastern’s women’s tennis team is coming off a two-game win streak and a week off from competition, ready to gain more momentum and defend the streak against Millikin University and North Central College.

The team’s last two matches were hard competition, seeing as the Panthers won each match by only one point. In both matches, sophomore Claire Martin would make the difference at the number four singles slot.

“Two weekends ago, my focus was to play more aggressive and dictate play,” Martin said. “This weekend, I will be going in with the same mindset. I need to have confidence that I am ready to play.”

The team’s focus all year has been to begin aggressive and obtain doubles points early in competitions. The number one singles spot of sophomore Rachel Papavasilopoulos and senior Srishti Slaria have a combined record of 7-2. The Panthers as a team  have not won the doubles points since Feb. 2 against Bradley.

In practice the last couple weeks, the team has been doing a lot of volleying to continue to build their confidence at the net. Head coach Chris Tolson has implemented movement related drills to help their footwork in order to help the team to get to the ball faster and take control of the points.

These matches are two of the last four before conference play begins March 22. The Panthers in the spring of 2018 had a combined record of 5-8 before conference play. This spring, the Panthers are 5-4, which included a four-match losing streak that was snapped against Cardinal Stritch. The Panthers hope to win the remainder matches to keep the winning streak alive and gain momentum for conference play and the rest of the season.

The women’s tennis team will play this weekend against Millikin University and North Central College. Its first match of the weekend will start Friday at 2:30 p.m. at the Dodds Tennis Center in Champaign against Millikin.

“I hope to go 2-0 this weekend. Regardless of the overall score, I hope to see competitive matches, and everyone incorporating what we’ve worked out in practice to our matches,” Martin said. “I’m going to keep in mind what Chris has been telling me to do and everything we’ve done in practice. All those things combined should produce good results, for me and for the team.”

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