Daily Egyptian

Women’s tennis hosts Saluki Fall Classic

By Austin Miller

The SIU women’s tennis players are looking for some home cooking to nourish them to victory this weekend.

The Salukis host Eastern Illinois University for the Saluki Fall Classic, their first home match of the season.

Coach Audra Anderson said the Classic is coming at a good time for the team. After a rough start on the road, she thinks the home-field advantage will benefit the team.

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“Not having to deal with the tax of traveling and lack of sleep will serve the team well,” she said. “We are fired up and ready to rebound from the conference tournament.”

The Salukis beat the Panthers last fall, but lost to them in the following spring. Anderson said the team is excited to avenge the loss.

She said the team has dealt with a couple injuries, but those injured will be ready to play.

Senior Natasha Tomishima said the new players will gain the most experience from this weekend’s games.

“It is always good to have home games, and they have never played at home before so they might not have the same pressure on them as on the road,” she said. “They might enjoy having someone cheering for them.”

Freshman Vitoria Beirao said she is excited to hear the warm welcome of Saluki fans for the first time.

“We have been traveling and we see students and friends cheering on those girls,” Beirao said. “Now we are going to get that cheering and support. When you have people cheering for you and shouting for you, it gives you confidence.”

Beirao, a native of Curitiba, Brazil, said even though she’s excited to debut at home, she’s still affected by nerves.

“I am nervous because of the responsibility I have as a player,” she said. “But if I give 100 percent and stay calm, I will do good. We are practicing here every day, so I know the courts.”

Tomishima nursed an abdominal strain, but said she will play fully healthy for the first time this season.

Arkansas State was supposed to play in the Classic, but had to withdraw because of overwhelming injuries. Coach Anderson said the Red Wolves were down to two healthy players and couldn’t send a full team to compete.

Tomishima said she is not fazed by the absence of Arkansas State or by the presence Eastern Illinois.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” she said. “All of these teams are good teams.”

Beirao agrees with Tomishima and said she has to be intense and play to win.

Anderson said the meet may be played indoors at the off-campus Sports Blast facility because of inclement weather.

Austin Miller can be reached at [email protected]

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