Panthers lose to Belmont, beat Tennessee State


Dillan Schorfheide

Rachel Papavasilopoulos nails a serve in her singles match during the women’s tennis team’s 4-3 loss to Jacksonville State March 22 at the Darling Courts. Papavasilopoulos won her singles match in three sets.

Blake Faith, Women's Tennis Reporter

Despite Eastern’s women’s tennis team’s conference loss to Belmont on Friday, the Panthers were still able to even their conference record with a win against Tennessee State on Saturday and a non-conference win against Martin Methodist College also on Saturday.

Against Belmont the Panthers would win one doubles match at the No. 1 singles slot with the pair of sophomore Rachel Papavasilopoulos and senior Srishti Slaria, but lose the other two doubles matches and the point. Papavasilopoulos and Slaria would win at the No. 1 and No. 2 slot for the Panthers before Belmont would claim the final points and win 5-2.

Against Tennessee State the Panthers would come out with a different pair at the No. 1 doubles slot. Papavasilopoulos would pair with sophomore Karla Contreras at the No. 1 slot, defeating Tennessee States Aarushi Kakka and Morgan Cage in a 6-4 set.

“It was definitely different not playing with Srishti, but Karla and I did well and pulled out a couple of wins,” Papavasilopoulos said. “I think we’ve all gained a little more confidence from the last two wins, which should help us going into the next match. We are playing some strong teams, but as long as we are playing our games we can beat anyone for sure.”

Slaria would go down to the No. 3 singles slot against Tennessee State and, pairing with senior Abby Carpenter, would defeat Tennessee State’s Abhilasha Vishwanatha and Mackenzie Beckham to claim the Panthers’ first doubles points of conference play.

In singles play, Carpenter, sophomore Claire Martin, Papavasilopoulos, and Slaria would all claim their singles points and help defeat Tennessee State 5-2 to even the Panthers conference play record at 2-2.

Slaria would then against Martin Methodist College switch to No. 2 doubles slot pairing with Martin as the Panthers would win every finished match, winning the meet 5-0. Slaria along with Papavasilopoulos would finish the weekend undefeated in both doubles and singles play.

“I am happy I won all my matches this weekend,” Slaria said. “I have been trying to make some changes in my game, and they have been working well for me. I think it (the switches) worked overall, and we all were able to communicate with each other no matter who we played with, which is a very good thing.”

Slaria added, “This weekend was important for us to get some wins, so we are one step closer to getting into the conference tournament, and I think everyone went out there with the same mindset. For the coming matches as well, we are motivated to give our best and win.”

The Panthers currently sit at fifth in the OVC Standings. This weekend the Panthers will compete against the number one team of Austin Peay State University and number three Murray State University.

The Panthers will begin their weekend competition against Austin Peay this Friday at 1 p.m. at Darling Courts.

“I want to keep giving my best out on the court and win more matches so that we, as a team, can win and prepare for the conference tournament,” Slaria said. “The results of previous matches only motivate me further to keep working hard.”

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