SIU women’s tennis opens with St. Louis tournament

By Gus Bode

The SIU women’s tennis team’s march to a Missouri Valley Conference title begins under the Gateway Arch.

The Salukis begin their 2008-09 season today with the three-day St. Louis Fall Tournament, which will be the team’s first action since falling to the University of Northern Iowa in the first round of the MVC Tournament last season.

The tournament features several teams familiar to SIU including Arkansas State, Southeast Missouri State and Saint Louis University. Opening the fall season in St. Louis allows the Salukis to get an early look at a few teams they will be playing during the spring season.


Coach Audra Nothwehr said she expects the team to perform well to open the season because of quality practice time.

“I think we can do pretty well in this tournament because we’ve been practicing well right now,” Nothwehr said. “It will be a learning experience, but I think we can do pretty well.”

Fadzai Mawisire, Vishakha Sheoran, Emily Whitney and Shelly Scimeca are expected to make their debuts in St. Louis at some point this weekend.

For Mawisire and Sheoran, who were successful before coming to SIU, the feeling of returning to the tennis court should be a familiar one.

Mawisire was a three-time semifinalist in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Tennis Championships in her time at Lindsey Wilson College where she played No. 2 singles and comes to SIU with a 42-5 career record in singles matches. She is not expected to participate on day one, but could suit up on day two or three.

Sheoran has four years of eligibility with the Salukis because she did not play college tennis while at New Delhi. She made her mark starring in the International Tennis Federation’s junior circuit where she won two ITF doubles tournaments and a four-time singles semifinalist.

Sheoran said she is starting to feel comfortable with her new teammates.


“It wasn’t much of a problem adjusting to being new,” Sheoran said. “My teammates have been helpful since the day I came.”

The experienced newcomers are expected to bolster a roster that returns five of its top players from last season.

The fresh faces on the team have caused Nothwehr to juggle the lineup based on how each player has performed during practice. Nothwehr said the Salukis would field all new doubles teams in addition to a shuffled singles line up.

Despite some early struggles, Nothwehr said the newcomers are coming along just in time for their first collegiate action.

“Some of them looked rusty at first, but there have been some surprises,” Nothwehr said. “It’s a pleasant surprise when you see newcomers work their way into the line up.”

Luis C. Medina can be reached at

536-3311 ext. 269 or

[email protected].