Daily Egyptian

SIU men’s tennis done after day one

By Matt Wells, @mattwells_DE

Saluki men’s tennis (6-16, 0-4) lost 4-1 to Maryland Baltimore County (12-6, 1-0) Friday in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, ending SIU’s season.

The Dawgs’ lone team point came in the No. 2 singles match when sophomore Michal Kianicka defeated Retrievers’ junior Melker Svard 6-3 and 7-5 in a straight-set victory.

The sophomore was not done and continued his winning into the No. 1 doubles match.

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Kianicka teamed with freshman Alex Pozo to beat UMBC’s senior Daniel Gray and junior Alex Drean 8-6.

It takes two doubles wins to earn a team point. The Retrievers won the other two doubles matches and scored the point.

In No. 2 doubles, senior Szymon Opieczonek and junior Jonny Rigby lost to Svard and junior Jaan Kononov 8-7.

Freshmen Daniel Martinez and Max Phipps lost their No. 3 doubles match to Carter and sophomore Eliott Loubatie 8-3.

“It was really tough to lose that doubles point, because the momentum kind of shifted in the other direction,” coach Dann Nelson said.

The team’s other singles either resulted in losses or went unfinished to UMBC once the Retrievers scored their fourth team point.

In the No. 1 singles match, Rigby’s match against Kononov went unfinished with scores of 4-6, 6-3 and 2-1.

The No. 4 singles match also went unfinished. Opieczonek lost to Drean, 6-4, 3-6 and 5-1.

Martinez lost to junior Justin Carter in the No. 3 singles matchup, 6-1, 6-4.

Pozo lost the No. 5 singles match to Loubatie 6-3, 4-6 and 6-2.

Phipps lost the No. 6 singles match to Gray 6-3, 6-2.

UMBC lost to Wichita State on Saturday in the conference semifinal match, 4-2.

Wichita State lost the championship match to Drake 4-3.

Going forward, Nelson said the team has to grow up, because of its inexperience. The team has only one senior, one junior, one sophomore and six freshmen. 

“We played the toughest schedule we have ever played since I’ve been here as a coach, with six freshmen,” Nelson said.

Despite winning only six matches, Nelson said the team defeated tough teams such as Northern Illinois and former nationally ranked DePaul.

“We played eight or nine nationally ranked teams this year and played them all pretty tough,” Nelson said.

He said the team must improve its singles play.

“With the tough competition, we were trying to show our new guys this is where the program was headed,” Nelson said.

He said he hopes the team continues to play nationally ranked programs.

“We might get beat up a little bit this year but we must improve because that’s where we want to be,” Nelson said.

Matt Wells can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-6311 ext. 269.

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