Shockers down Dawgs, take No. 3 seed

By Matt Ferguson

 

The Salukis’ 6-1 loss to Wichita State decided the fight for the top three Missouri Valley Conference tennis spots.

With two losses by Drake University (23-2, 5-0) and a win over the Shockers (15-7, 4-1 MVC), the Salukis (12-5, 3-2 MVC) could have been the No. 1 seed going into the MVC Team Championships. Despite the Shockers’ near sweep, sophomore Jorge Cavero said the match was closer than it looked.

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“I don’t think the 6-1 in favor (of Wichita State) reflects the overall outcome,” he said. “We lost the doubles point really close. Me and Syzmon (Opieczonek) could have won at No. 3 and then Brandon (Florez) and Martijn (Admiraal) could have won at No. 1. I think getting that doubles point would have given us more confidence towards the singles matches.”

Only freshman Jonny Rigby won his singles matchup with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Shocker sophomore Tomislav Gregusovic. The win extends Rigby’s undefeated No. 4 spot play and makes six consecutive singles match wins before the start of conference tournament play.

Coach Dann Nelson said he is impressed with his freshman’s play.

“I think he has done amazing,” Nelson said. “He should be all-conference at No. 4 singles, and he should get a lot of votes for freshman of the year. I can’t vote for him because he is on my team, but if I could I would vote for him.”

Rigby has not lost a singles match against any conference opponent this season and has seven wins in his last eight finished doubles matches.

Senior Badr Cherradi, Rigby’s doubles partner, lost his singles match 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 against freshman Tin Ostojic. It marks his second-straight singles loss against a MVC opponent in the last two matches. He had 10 consecutive wins in singles before the start of the two-match slide.

Cherradi has faced some tough competition in the No. 3 spot during the past two matches. Drake junior Robin Goodwin is ranked 111th nationally in singles. The Shockers’ Ostojic has won four of his last five matches against MVC opponents.

After being undefeated for the season’s first seven weeks, Admiraal lost his second-straight singles match. He is now 2-2 playing in the No. 5 spot this year and is undefeated when playing at the No. 6 spot.

The Salukis lost the doubles point for only the fifth time in their 17 matches this season. Rigby and Cherradi were the only partners to win their doubles match against the Shockers. The Shockers’ senior Martheus Pereira and Ostojic ended Florez’s and Admiraal’s six-game doubles winning streak at 7-9.

Florez said the loss in doubles was a tough one.

“It was a huge chunk out of my drive losing that doubles point,” Florez said.  “Me and Martijn really wanted that No. 1 All-Conference doubles and we lost that point (against Wichita State).

The Saturday loss drops the Salukis to 3-2 in conference play securing the No. 3 seed in the MVC Championship.  With a record of 4-1 in conference play, the Shockers will have a first match bye along with Valley-leading Drake University.  The Bulldogs secured the top spot with their 5-2 win over Bradley University Sunday afternoon.  Despite the lower seed, Nelson said his team is fine with their seeding.

“I don’t think it matters at all,” Nelson said. “In a lot of people’s eyes, it favors the No. 3 because you get to play and don’t have to just sit. We play the sixth seed, which is Creighton, and hopefully if we can duplicate what we did last time we can go through them pretty quick so we can get ready to play Wichita in the semi-finals.”

The Salukis swept the Jays 7-0 in their last match against Creighton.  The Dawgs will return to Wichita, Kan., Friday to begin the MVC Championships.

 

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