Tennis sweeps at Sports Blast

Tennis sweeps at Sports Blast

By Demario Smith-Phipps

After competitive doubles play, the SIU women’s tennis team easily defeated Eastern Illinois in singles to sweep Saturday’s matchup.

The Saluki No.1 doubles team, composed of seniors Melanie Delsart and Anastacia Simons, beat Eastern’s top duo, Merritt Whitley and Janelle Prinser, 8-6. Delsart struggled against EIU’s hard-hitting players, but her partner’s consistent play paced them to a swift victory.

Simons said it’s her responsibility to step up when Delsart isn’t in top form. “Our opponents played us pretty tough today,” she said. “Mel didn’t play as good as we’re used to, but we still managed to win points close to the net and we didn’t make many

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unforced errors.” Sophomore Natasha Tomishima

and senior Jennifer Dien breezed past the Panther’s Ali Foster and Kristen Laird 8-2 at the third team slot. Junior Anita Lee and senior Korey Love were victorious over Sephora Boulbahaiem and Hannah Kimbrough 8-5 at the No. 2 spot. Lee spiked a shot past the

EIU team for the match point and communicated well with Love when their strategy needed changes.

Lee said Eastern Illinois was able to get points from their power, but SIU won because of venue familiarity.

“It always helps to play in front of our fans and supporters,” she said. “We were used to the speed of indoor play because we practice here all the time in the Sports Blast. After we settled down, we realized that we can hit just as hard as them.”

The team battled through doubles play but faced less resistance in singles and dominated with wins in all six positions.

Delsart disposed of Prinser 6-2, 6-1 as the No. 1 matchup. Lee was locked into a tough duel with Whitley and narrowly escaped with the victory, 6-7 (0-3), 6-1, 7-5.

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At the No. 3 and four slots, Tomishima and Dien won 7-5, 7-5 and 6-1, 7-6 (3-0) respectively.

Simons defeated Laird 6-1, 6-4 and sophomore Gisela Cairo Baza won her match 6-2, 6-4 to help SIU complete the sweep of the Panthers.

Lee said heightened practice intensity has improved each player’s game tremendously.

“Sometimes, we just get into a lull and can’t win any points because we aren’t pumped up enough,” she said. “But in practice, we have been playing each other very competitive, and I think that helped everybody win today.”

Coach Audra Nothwehr said she was pleased with her team’s singles play, but it needs to improve its doubles play.

“The girls are losing their positioning because they are getting defensive and not attacking,” Nothwehr said. “Whatever is the cause of that, we need to fix it fast.”

She also said the Salukis’ depth is what separates them from other

she said. “Eastern has a really good one, two, and three punch, but we’re a good team from top to bottom. We aren’t even playing everyone in the same spots all the talented teams. “Some teams are top-heavy,”

time. I try to move players around and see what they can do.”

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