Men and women wrap up fall tennis season

By Brent Meske

As the fall season comes to a close, the men’s and women’s tennis teams will work during the offseason to continue success during its spring season.

While both teams have had success, neither is complacent with how the first half of the season has gone.

Men’s head coach Dann Nelson said this fall season was better than was last year’s.



“We have had some good results and some that aren’t typical of what we normally do,” he said. “We have a really young team and we’re trying to install a certain work ethic and teach them how we do things.”

The team played in three tournaments through the fall. The final event, The Bulldog Jamboree, hosted by Drake University was canceled. Nelson said the team spent extra time in the weight room and conditioning to make up for it.

He said the doubles teams did well this season, especially the 7-1 team of junior Jonny Rigby and sophomore Michal Kianicka.

Rigby and Kianicka were undefeated in doubles last season and were named the best doubles team in the Missouri Valley Conference.

This year, they were 7-1 as a doubles team and want to continue their success.

“The one match we lost was a really close match, and we could have won it,” Rigby said. “I think it is great knowing that we can compete with anyone in the nation.”

The duo said they could still improve going forward, including their on- court communication. Rigby said they have improved since last year and their level of confidence has been the biggest improvement.

In singles play, Rigby was 7-3, his best fall record as a Saluki.

Rigby said while his previous fall seasons were inconsistent, that changed this year.

Rigby went 1-3 in the fall of 2012 and 7-6 in the fall of 2013.

Kianicka was 3-5 and he said he is not happy with his singles performance this year.

“I have not had a good season,” he said. “I have fought some injuries and have not felt good on the court most of the season. I was not as confident and focused as I could have been. Now I’m focused on having a good spring season.”

The spring season will revolve around team play instead of individual play. Rigby said the team has the talent to be successful, but it needs to be more consistent.

Nelson agreed, but said the youth on the team might be the reason why they have struggled with consistency. The team has six new players on the team.

Kianicka said the team has more depth than last season, which adds more competition to the lineup.

“Last season we only had 6 or 7 guys, but this year we have 8 or 9 that can make the top 5,” he said. “No one can take a day off, because if you do you will fall behind.”

Women’s head coach Audra Anderson said her team could have done better in the fall.

“It wasn’t an amazing fall, but it wasn’t a bad fall,” she said. “We still have work to do, but I think we’ll have a solid team in the spring.”

Senior Natasha Tomishima and sophomore Meagan Monaghan led the way for the Salukis.

Anderson said the two were the best players on the team this season.

“One of the best things this year was doubles,” she said. “We have the top team who has done really well this year, but the rest of the teams involve freshmen so we’re teaching them how to do well as a team.”

The duo was 8-3 in doubles play this season.

Tomishima said players have different individual goals for the year. She said she has achieved her personal goals other than winning conference.

Anderson said she was most disappointed in the team’s effort at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

“We usually come back from that with a couple titles, but that was the [tournament] we didn’t do well at,” she said. “People were not stepping up. That tournament is usually how we measure ourselves because it is against our conference opponents.”

Anderson said Monaghan and Tomishima were on a different level than that of everyone else because of their consistency. She said they were the best singles players on the team in the fall as well.

Tomishima played the No. 1 spot for the Salukis, and faced the toughest competition. This season, she was 2-6 in singles play. She said she can improve in the spring.

Monaghan played the No. 2 spot for the Salukis and was 8-6 in singles this season.

She said the team has to come together for the spring season.

“Now it’s about the team,” Monaghan said. “We need to work together to beat other teams in our conference and ultimately win conference.”

Both players said the team can be successful in the spring if everyone believes in their own ability and level of talent.

“We have already played ranked teams this year,” Tomishima said. “I don’t want to say we freaked out when we saw them, but we underestimated ourselves, and we shouldn’t.”

The men resume play the weekend of Jan. 17 when they go to Knoxville to play against Tennessee, North Florida and East Tennessee State.

The women resume play on Jan. 16 and 17 in Louisville against Morehead State and Louisville.