Daily Egyptian

Salukis play final set in MVC tournament

By Tyler Davis

The Salukis’ run at a second-straight appearance in the title match of the Missouri Valley Conference Championship came to an abrupt end Saturday. 

The weekend started well for the women’s tennis team, which was ranked second in the seven-team tournament, as the Salukis defeated the Bradley Braves, 7-0 Friday. On Saturday, the team lost to No. 3 Drake University, 4-1.

Coach Audra Anderson was disappointed the team did not achieve the same success as last year, but said there were positives to take away from this season.

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“Overall, it was a good season; they were a very coachable team,” Anderson said. “I thought we had great leadership, great seniors and some really reliable people when it came down to it.”

The reliability of the team’s top players was tested against Drake. Anderson said the windy conditions were tough to overcome, but the cheering by the Drake players made the match “really, really tough to play in.”

In doubles play, SIU took the first match as junior Natasha Tomishima and freshman Meagan Monaghan defeated Bulldog senior Klavdija Rebol and sophomore Lea Kozulic, 8-1. From there, Drake won both remaining doubles matches to take the first point of the day.

In singles play, senior Anita Lee picked up the lone Saluki victory, beating sophomore Mariel Ante 6-2, 6-2. That victory would be Lee’s last as she and fellow senior Korey Love took the court for the last time for the Salukis.

Lee said she believes the team will still compete in the MVC without her and Love.

“I will miss the community, the academic center, the community in the weight room, the training room, and Coach and the team and everyone,” she said. “Just being a part of a large community of athletes trying to represent the school.”

Over their four-year careers, the duo had 32 doubles wins together, the ninth most in SIU history. Anderson said she will miss their consistency in doubles and reliability as captains.

“We’ll really miss the dependability and leadership of the seniors,” she said. “Except for today, when you needed that point, they always came through and they came back from being down a lot.”

With just two graduating seniors, the team will return seven of its nine players. In singles, the whole lineup returns except Lee at No. 2. The doubles lineup fully returns besides Lee and Love at the No. 2 slot.

Anderson said she expects more success and bigger roles for freshmen Monaghan and Polina Dozortseva. Both posted winning records in singles play and exceeded expectations coming into the season.

“Polina played No. 6 in the fall and was struggling so I was excited to see how well she can play, and Meagan is a very consistent player too,” Anderson said. “We just try to get her to be a little bit more aggressive. We have to keep getting better.”

Aside from the returning players, Anderson is also excited about the incoming freshmen. Adding to the five international players on the roster is Athena Chrysanthou from England and Yana Grolovkina from Ukraine.

“Athena is from Great Britain, and a really good player; tall and powerful,” Anderson said. “I’m excited to see what number she could play for us. Yana was the first player we signed. She’s a good player; one of the top players in Ukraine.”

With the influx of talent and the underclassmen’s experience, Anderson said the team’s goal for next season remains the same—win an MVC Team Tennis Championship.

Monaghan said the team is good enough to compete with Drake and Wichita State University and even though they will miss their seniors, she said they will be in the running for the title.

“Winning the conference championship should be our expectation going into next season,” Monaghan said. “We have the belief that we can beat any team and go out there stronger next year.”

The team will get a chance at redemption when the individual season begins in the fall.

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @TDavis_DE or at 539-311 ext. 269

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