The SIU women’s tennis team may have experienced its first season defeat Friday, but the team bounced back to win Sunday in the second match of a doubleheader against Northern Illinois University.
SIU lost 6-1 to Arkansas State University but defeated NIU 5-2 at Sports Blast. The team played at home for the second straight week. It was strong doubles play that allowed the Salukis to win, especially after SIU was overpowered by the Arkansas State University Red Wolves earlier in the weekend. SIU was defeated in all but one of its matches against the Red Wolves.
The only win in doubles play against ASU came at No. 2 seeded doubles, as partners freshman Natasha Tomishima and junior Jennifer Dien won 8-4.
The No. 3 seeded doubles team, sophomore Anita Lee and junior Anastacia Simons, lost 9-8 in a tiebreaker, while the No. 1 doubles team, juniors Melanie Delsart and Korey Love, lost 8-5.
Love has battled a knee injury, and Friday was her first competition since the Regional Tournament Oct. 24. Love said she is not yet completely healthy and doesn’t expect to return to 100 percent for another month or so.
In singles play, the Red Wolves used overpowering and well-placed serves to defeat the Salukis. No. 1 seed Delsart lost 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
A frustrated Delsart drew a racket abuse penalty in the third set after she slammed her racket in anger, which in turn gave her opponent a point.
No. 2 seed Lee was also able to force a third set, only to lose 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, in the longest match of the night, which lasted more than two hours.
The match had several long volleys between the opponents, but Lee could not make the necessary plays to put the game away. Lee also suffered minor muscle cramps during the match, but said the cramps did not affect her play.
“I can honestly say that I didn’t let it get in my head. I just tried to get through the match and I wasn’t telling myself I was tired at all,” Lee said.
Dien lost 6-3, 7-6, losing the tiebreak after the second set stood even at 6-6. Dien was at 5-5 during the tiebreak but lost the remaining points and the match. Dien said she has to improve her play under pressure in order to win close matches.
“Sometimes when I get tight in a match, I give away unnecessary free points, so when I give those away I give the match away,” Dien said. “I need to play one point at a time and not get so wrapped up in the game being so close.”
Because Arkansas State had already clinched the victory in the meet, the final three seeds played one set matches, with the first to win at least eight games by a margin of two being the victor.
No. 5 seeded freshman Ariadna Cairo Baza won her match 8-5, but Tomishima lost at the No. 4 seed 8-6 and Simons lost at six 9-7.
The ability to return serves hurt the Salukis during the match. Coach Audra Nothwehr credited the Red Wolves players for mixing up their placements and serving styles.
“It was a tight match; it could have gone either way. We need a tough match like this,” Nothwehr said.
Heading into the match Sunday against NIU, Nothwehr stressed consistency as the way to rebound from the previous defeat, which is exactly what the team did.
Delsart and Dien both captured singles victories at one and three seeds as they soundly defeated their opponents 6-1, 6-4 and 6-4, 6-0 respectively. Fifth seed Ariadna Cairo Baza completed her sweep of the weekend, winning 6-1, 6-0, and twin sister Gisela Cairo Baza won her match at the six seed 6-2, 0-6, 10-5. Lee and Tomishima lost as two and four seeds, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 and 7-5, 6-2.
In doubles No. 1 seed partners Dien and Delsart won 8-4, and partners Simons and Lee won 9-8. Three seed partners Ariadna and Gisela Cairo Baza lost 8-5.
Nothwehr said her team learned from their previous defeat and came ready to compete on Sunday.
“You take away more when you lose than when you win,” Nothwehr said. “It was a learning day. We saw how close we were to a very good team. We knew we had to be focused and bounce back today.”
This team victory accounted for Nothwehr’s 200th career win, including victories from NAIA Lindsey Wilson College and SIU.