Salukis lose fight for top seed

By Terrance Peacock

On a day when three seniors bid farewell to a large home crowd, the women’s tennis team fell to Wichita State on Sunday to record their first conference loss of the season.

The Salukis (17-4, 6-1 Missouri Valley Conference) swept Creighton Saturday 7-0 at home before they lost to Wichita State 7-0 on Senior Day to wrap up the regular season second in the conference.

SIU showed their doubles dominance by winning all three matches against Creighton to take the doubles point.

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Juniors Korey Love and Anita Lee picked up their 14th consecutive win 8-3 against Creighton counterparts junior Analese Snyder and freshman Karlin Naslund to carry the Salukis in doubles action. Saluki senior Jennifer Dien and sophomore Natasha Tomishima won 8-5 at the No. 2 spot while seniors Melanie Delsart and Anastacia Simons continued their impressive year winning 8-5 at the No. 1 spot.

The Salukis saw much of the same in singles play as the Bluejays failed to pick up a match against SIU.

Delsart improved her record to 5-1 in MVC play and 20-10 overall after besting sophomore Jennie Hartjes (6-0, 6-3) at flight No. 1. Tomishima continued the Salukis’ winning ways besting her counterpart (6-2, 6-1) at the No. 2 spot.

Sophomore Ariadna Cairo Baza won her fourth match of conference play after defeating Creighton’s sophomore Liz Vermillion (6-1, 6-1) and Simons won (7-6, 6-0) at the No. 6 slot for the Salukis.

After Saturday’s sweep, coach Audra Nothwehr said her team was set to face Wichita State on Sunday, a match that would determine the regular season conference champion.

“We play well at home and we play well when we are playing a good team,” Nothwehr said. “We always rise to the occasion with those two factors, and I know we will come out and give it our best.”

Wichita State (12-10, 7-0 MVC) beat the Salukis 7-0 Sunday to conclude the MVC regular season championship.

“We needed to be a bit more consistent in our games,” Nothwehr said. “I think we just came out a little nervous today.”

Although the Salukis failed to pick up a win in doubles play, SIU battled against the Shockers, but fell short in each match.

Tomishima and Dien lost in a tiebreaker to Wichita State’s freshman Rebecca Pedrazzi and junior Carla Venticinque 8-7 (1), while Love and Lee fell 8-6 at the No. 3 spot.

Delsart and Simons were defeated 9-7 at the No. 1 spot to sophomore Lucia Kovalova and junior Veronika Blaskova. The loss drops the duo’s record to 28-6 overall.

In singles action, the Shockers took all six matches. Delsart was bested at flight No. 1 (6-2, 6-2) and Wichita State’s freshman Julia Schiller defeated Tomishima (7-6(4), 6-1) at the No. 2 spot.

Simons fell at the No. 6 spot (6-0, 6-0) to conclude what was a disappointing senior day for the Salukis.

“I have seen our doubles teams down by as many as six points and come back,” Nothwehr said. “Today we battled hard, but we just came up short in the end.”

Delsart finished her Saluki regular season career with a career 68-37 record in singles play and 79-35 record in doubles. Delsart’s 79 career doubles wins ranks second in school history.

Simons finished out her career with a 40-35 singles record and 66-43 doubles record while Dien’s career record was 57-51 in singles and 67-41 in doubles.

Dien ranks fourth on the SIU all-time doubles list while Simons ranks fifth in doubles wins, respectively.

The Salukis will travel Friday to Wichita, Kan., for the MVC Championships. SIU will be the No. 2 seed behind No. 1 seed Wichita State. Final seeding will be released later in the week.

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