Eastern ready for windy weekend matches

Blake Faith, Women's Tennis Reporter

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Eastern’s Karla Contreras prepares to return a ball in the Panthers’ match against Jacksonville State March 22 at the Darling Courts. Eastern hosts Austin Peay on Friday.

Dillan Schorfheide
Eastern’s Karla Contreras prepares to return a ball in the Panthers’ match against Jacksonville State March 22 at the Darling Courts. Eastern hosts Austin Peay on Friday.

Eastern’s women’s tennis team is taking the momentum from its two-match win streak into two tough conference opponents in Austin Peay and Murray State this weekend.

Last weekend the Panthers lost one of their conference matches of the weekend to Belmont to start the weekend. Eastern’s tennis director Chris Tolson switched his lineup around against Tennessee State.

Senior Srishti Slaria and sophomore Rachel Papavasilopoulos have played alongside each other at the No. 1 doubles slot most of the year. That would change against Tennessee State as  Papavasilopoulos would pair with sophomore Karla Contreras and Slaria would pair with senior Abby Carpenter at the No. 3 singles slot.

The Panthers were able to regroup despite the switches in doubles play winning their first doubles point 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.

In the next match against Martin Methodist College, the Panthers would have another switch in doubles play. Slaria would move to number two doubles slot and pair with Martin. The Panthers would win all three doubles matches, win the meet 5-0 and improve their season record to 11-7.

Friday’s weather forecast is looking to be windy with winds predicted to reach 13 to 20 miles per hour, and winds could be as high as 33 miles per hour. The players will focus on the competition at hand and playing their game, not the weather being in their favor or not.

“I think I just have to trust myself and have confidence in my ability,” Martin said. “We practice in wind all the time, so I will just have to play consistent and work the other player and take advantage of the conditions that they might not be used to playing in.”

The Panthers are currently fifth in the OVC women’s tennis standings with a 2-2 conference record and an 11-7 overall record.

Austin Peay is 4-0 in conference play overall and 16-0 overall at the top of the OVC standings. Murray State is 4-1 in conference play and 10-7 overall and sits in third place in the OVC standings. The Panthers’ mentality all season has been not to look at the numbers of their opponents, but be eager to compete against any team hard and come out with the best result.

“Just because both teams are high in the standings, doesn’t mean they’re not beatable,” Martin said. “The team has the ability to push the other in all matches, so it should be a great weekend of tennis. And winning will help secure our spot in the conference tournament which is our goal.”

Eastern’s women’s tennis team will begin their weekend against Austin Peay this Friday at 1 p.m. The Panthers will then play Murray State Saturday at 1 p.m. All matches will be held at Darling Courts.