Not even 25 mph wind gusts could cool off the red hot Salukis who won their conference opener against the University of Evansville Purple Aces Tuesday.
As temperatures fell and the wind picked up, the women’s tennis team chugged along getting the first four points of the day, going on to defeat Evansville 5-2.
SIU has now won 10 of its last 11 matches and has beaten Evansville three straight times. The Purple Aces have not won in Carbondale since 2006.
The day started with SIU taking two out of three doubles matches to gain the doubles point. Then the wind began to pick up, causing many players to abandon their normal tennis skirts and short sleeves shirts for long pants and hoodies.
Freshman Meagan Monaghan said she had to change her approach because of the wind.
“I think in the wind you always have to win kind of ugly,” Monaghan said. “On one side, you hit the ball and it will fly, and on the other side, you hit it and it will be too short, so you definitely have to take that into account.”
It would be hard to tell if the wind affected Monaghan as she played well in singles after she and junior Natasha Tomishima dropped their doubles match.
Monaghan went on to win her Missouri Valley Conference debut in singles in a nail-biter, 6-2, 3-6 (10-6). Monaghan, playing No. 3 singles, said her nerves got to her to begin the match.
“I did feel nervous, of course, because it’s the first conference match,” Monaghan said. “I also felt excited because it is conference so it was a wide range of feelings.”
Fellow freshman Polina Dozortseva played well on the day winning her No. 3 doubles match with partner junior Ariadna Cairo Baza, 8-3. She also won her No. 4 singles match, 6-2, 6-4. Baza won her No. 5 singles match as well, 6-1, 6-3.
Dozortseva said her conference debut was not a big deal to her until she heard all the talk surrounding the match.
“It is kind of scary because every one is asking you, ‘First conference match, what are you going to do?’” Dozortseva said. “‘I’m just like ‘I don’t know, I’m just playing tennis.’”
Coach Audra Anderson said on a day where the team’s top two players took losses in singles, the freshmen were a positive part of the team.
“They definitely were a bright spot and it’s a big difference from the fall,” she said. “I don’t think you could count on them then as much as you can now.”
The lone losses in singles play were from the No. 1 and 2 slots. Junior Natasha Tomishima fell in a close one 7-6 (3), 2-6, (9-11) and senior Anita Lee lost in a three-set match as well, 6-1, 1-6, 5-7.
At No. 6 singles, junior Gisela Cairo Baza won in straight sets 6-2, 6-1.
Anderson said the team played well even in the losses, but the bottom of the lineup’s success is what carried the team.
“I think we played pretty well,” she said. “Down low, we took care of business and they had some great competitors up at top and we were right in those matches.”
SIU’s next match is at 1 p.m. Thursday against St. Louis University in St. Louis. The Salukis took down the Billikens, 4-3, last spring.
Thursday begins a busy weekend for the Dawgs, who travel from St. Louis to Louisville, Ky., for matches against ranked opponents.
Saturday, they face the University of Louisville and Lindsey Wilson College, a school where Anderson coached from 2003 to 2007. Louisville is ranked No. 67 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings and Lindsey Wilson is ranked No. 4 in the National Association Intercollegiate Athletics Rankings.
Tyler Davis can be reached at tdavis@ dailyegyptian.com