The SIU women’s tennis team traveled to Florida and came away with three more victories Tuesday through Friday to extend its winning streak to nine and its season record to 9-1.
The Salukis are coming off their first Intercollegiate Tennis Association ranking in school history and their best start since the 2003-2004 season. They are ranked 59th in the ITA rankings, and coach Audra Nothwehr said the team is excited to accomplish something never before done in the program’s history.
However, she said the team’s goal is to come away with a conference championship.
“The sky is the limit with this team — they are so focused and are training hard,” Nothwehr said in a Saluki Athletics release. “We also know that this is just a stepping stone to where we want to go. It’s just a poll; it’s not a conference championship, and that is our ultimate goal.”
The Salukis were tested March 12 against Florida International in Miami
but secured a 4-3 victory against the Panthers (2-11), which extended their win streak to seven matches.
SIU swept FIU in doubles competition as seniors Melanie Delsart and Anastacia Simons led at the No. 1 spot with their 8-3 win against Panthers Rita Maisak and Aleksandra Trifunovic. The win marked the duo’s seventh straight.
Senior Jennifer Dien and sophomore Natasha Tomishima also recorded an 8-3 win in their No. 2 matchup against Magali Holt and Giulietta Boha.
Success didn’t come as easy for juniors Korey Love and Anita Lee in the three-spot, as they were locked in a battle with FIU’s Charlotta Orlanda and Lotte Gras. The match was tied 7-7 and needed a tiebreaker to determine a winner.
During the tiebreaker, the Saluki duo didn’t drop a point during the tiebreaker and swept 5-0 as they took the match 8-7.
Both SIU and FIU took 3 matches in singles competition. Delsart struggled at the No. 1 spot and lost to her FIU counterpart 6-2, 6-3, and sophomore Ariadna Cairo Baza was defeated by FIU’s Giulietta Boha 6-0, 6-3 in the No. 4 spot.
Tomishima defeated Tita Maisak 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 2 spot and Dien bested her opponent 6-2, 6-1 at No. 5. Simons also swept Michelle Sabado 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 6 spot.
“I’m proud of the girls, especially since this was our first match outside this year,” Nothwehr said. “We played pretty solid, especially in doubles.”
The Salukis had a quick turnaround as they were back in action against Quinnipiac University the next day in Orlando, Fla.
SIU wasted no time and swept Quinnipiac 7-0 en route to their eighth-straight win.
Delsart and Simons continued their hot streak besting Rachel Cantor and Sarah Veibrock of Quinnipiac, 8-6.
Dien and Tomishima highlighted SIU’s impressive play with their 9-8 win against their opponents at the two spot while Love and Lee won 8-2 at the No. 3 spot.
In singles action, SIU took all six matches, which included a 7-5, 6-2 victory from Lee in the three spot and a 6-4, 6-2 win by Gisela Cairo Baza in the No. 6 spot.
“Some of our matches were pretty close and I am proud of how we stayed aggressive through the pressure points,” Nothwehr said. “We showed our mental toughness by winning all four of our tiebreakers.”
The Salukis concluded their Florida trip Friday and came away with their third win of the trip and ninth straight overall against Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Fla.
SIU’s nine game winning streak is the longest in school history.
Simons and Delsart led the way in doubles competition and defeated their opponents 8-0 in the one spot. The duo is now 21-2 on the season.
In singles competition, the Salukis won five out of six matches. Gisela Cairo Baza won her tenth-straight match and bested Florida Atlantic’s Natasha Phillips (6-0, 6-1) in the No. 5 spot.
Tomishima came back from being down a set and 1-5 in the second set to win six games straight, while taking the third set to win her match at the No. 2 spot (2-6, 7-5, 6-3).
SIU will be back in action March 21 at 3:00 p.m. when they host Tennessee-Martin.