Men’s, women’s tennis in weekend tournaments

By Gus Bode

While the SIU men’s tennis team heads to Louisiana-Lafayette to face tough competition in its first tournament of the season, the women’s team will be looking to build on a solid showing in the Billiken Classic during its second tournament in Chattanooga.

Both teams begin play Sept. 19 and hope to finish atop the leader board when the tournaments end Sept. 21.

Men’s head coach Dann Nelson said the tournament would be tough for his team to compete in.


“It’s a tournament we’ve never attended before,” Nelson said. “It’s our first tournament of the season, so expectations aren’t very high. I’m not one to put a whole lot of pressure on our guys right out of the gate.”

Senior Hugo Vidal headlines the men’s squad while sophomore Sebastian Rubiano and junior Anton Leonenko are also expected to make contributions this weekend.

Nelson said freshman Eric West should also expect significant playing time.

The tournament should give SIU all it can handle as No. 18 ranked LSU enters as the tournament favorite while Arkansas and Indiana both feature nationally ranked players.

“None of our players are ranked right now,” Nelson said. “If we beat one of those teams, automatically we get ranked. That’s what I’m secretly hoping for, one of our guys to pull off a win like that.”

The women will be competing in their second tournament of the year after a good showing in the unscored Billikan Classic Sept. 5-7.

Women’s head coach Audra Nothwehr said she is more focused on how her team plays as opposed to if they win or lose.


“We know that winning will come if we just focus on playing well,” Nothwehr said. “If you just focus on the points you’re winning or losing, you will start to tighten up. We’re trying to focus on performance rather than winning or losing.”

Fadzai Mawisire is expected to lead SIU. Mawisire finished 4-0 at the Billiken Classic in No. 1 singles and won her respective flight championship.

She said she is hoping to make another strong showing in just her second tournament as a Saluki after transferring from Lindsey Wilson College.

“I would like to make it to the semifinals,” Mawisire said. “Anything better than that is exceptional. Semifinals or quarterfinals would be great for me.”

SIU also features senior Ame Blacketer and sophomore Jessica Flannery. Blacketer went 2-2 in No. 2 singles at the Billiken Classic, while Flannery went 3-1 in No. 3 singles. Sophomore Vishakha Sheoran is also expected to compete at a high level.

Nothwehr said her biggest goal is to see some of her women come home with victories.

“It will be a challenge, but it will be something we can do well at,” she said. “We hope to get down there and come back with some flight champions.”

Stile Smith can be contacted at

536-3311 ext. 282 or [email protected].