Salukis hold on against ITA elite

The Saluki women’s tennis team had its best performance of the year at the ITA Women’s Central Region Tennis Championship during the weekend.

“There was no one team or one singles player who stepped up in particular,” coach Audra Nothwehr said. “Everyone played a role in the success we saw this tournament. I’m really proud of my team.”

Sophomore Natasha Tomishima won two qualifiying singles matches 6-4, 6-1 and 6-4, 6-0 in Tulsa, Okla. She won her first main draw singles match 6-3, 6-1 but was defeated 6-0, 6-1 by Tulsa University junior Samantha Vickers in the second round.

Despite her second-round stumble, Tomishima said she was proud of her play against some of the region’s top tennis talent.

“Every team here brings their top players. Everyone here is almost at a pro level,” she said. “I think we played pretty well out there against them.”

Senior Jennifer Dien bounced back from a first-round qualifying singles loss to win 6-2, 6-1 in the qualifying singles consolation. Fellow senior Melanie Delsart won her first single’s main draw match, but she was toppled 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 by No. 4 seed Nebraska senior Patricia Veresova.

Tomishima and Dien won their opening doubles match 8-4, but they were beat 8-0 by Tulsa duo sophomore Isaura Enrique and junior Samantha Vickers in the second round.

Senior partners Anastacia Simons and Delsart were also triumphant in their first match as they won 8-4. The duo then met No. 2 seed Kansas doubles junior Dylan Windom and senior Monica Pezzotti in the second round. However, Simons’ and Delsart’s efforts proved to be too much for Windom and Pezzotti as the Saluki women won 8-6. The duo also won the next two matches 9-7 after recovering from 4-6 deficits.

Nothwehr said the team realized that seeds didn’t mean anything, so it came out with plenty of intensity and fight.

“We knew we wanted to play aggressive,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of pressure because we were the underdogs.”

Delsart and Simons advanced through the doubles main draw all the way to the semi-finals, where the pair was defeated 8-1 by Kansas State junior Petra Niedermayerova and freshman Ivana Kubickova

Nothwehr said the team had an outstanding tournament, but there were still improvements to be made.

“Sometimes we think we have to hit all the big shots to win out here, but … you should always stay in your own game,” she said. “We lost a few matches because the other team played unbelievably solid tennis, and I think the girls can take a lot out of this tournament.”

Delsart said this was one of the scheduled tournaments the team anticipates from the season’s start.

“At our very first practice, we start practicing for the ITA’s,” she said. “It’s a tournament that we all want to play in to see where our practice has gotten us.”

Nothwehr said the Saluki women were able to maintain momentum from the successful fall season start, and she expects it to carry over to spring.

“We’re building a lot of confidence with every tournament,” she said. “It gets better every match and every season.”

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