Dawgs end season with tough semi-final loss

By Tony McDaniel

The SIU men’s tennis team’s season ended Saturday with a loss in the semi-finals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. 

The Salukis fell 4-0 to Wichita State University and only managed to win one set in the match.

Coach Dann Nelson said his team couldn’t match up with Wichita.


“We just came out flat, especially in doubles,” Nelson said. “We couldn’t turn the momentum. We just couldn’t match their intensity and we’re not satisfied with how we played.”

The Salukis not only fight the Shockers, but the wind as well with gusts over 15 mph.

Junior Jorge Cavero said while the wind made play difficult; it was not an excuse for the Salukis’ loss Saturday as both teams dealt with the conditions.

“There was a lot of wind, it was pretty tough to find a rhythm,” Cavero said. “You’ve really got to adjust your footwork according to the wind. You can also use it to your advantage… You can use it to create more shots and angles.”

In doubles play, the Shockers outplayed the Salukis on all three courts.

The junior duo of Cavero Szymon Opieczonek lost 8-3 at No. 2 doubles. The team of freshman Jeremy Dixon and senior Rafael Cuadrillero lost its match with Wichita State’s duo of freshman Jocelyn Devilliers and sophomore Ibian Hodgson 8-1. The two wins allowed Wichita State to take the doubles point and a 1-0 lead heading into singles action.

In singles play, Wichita State continued to dominate SIU.


The Shockers extended their lead to 2-0 when Devilliers shutdown Cuadrillero in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. SIU followed up the loss with another on court two when Cavero fell to junior Tomislav Gregurovic 6-2, 6-2, to allow Wichita State to take a 3-0 lead.

The Shockers seized a chance to win the match when senior Guillermo Nicol defeated the MVC Freshman of the Year Michal Kianicka 6-2, 6-4, to secure the 4-0 victory.

The matches at one, four and six singles all remained unfinished.

Freshman Jeremy Dixon won the only set of the match on court six when he beat Hodgson 6-4.

Cavero said the season-ending loss was a tough one to take.

“We weren’t really happy at all,” Cavero said. “I really think we had a chance against Wichita, but unfortunately it was just a bad day for most of us.”

With the victory, Wichita advanced to the tournament finals for a match with Drake University, which the Shockers would lose 4-0. This was SIU’s second loss to Wichita this season; the Salukis fell to the Shockers 5-2 April 11 in Carbondale.

While it was Drake that would leave Bloomington with the conference championship, the Salukis still brought home hardware of their own.

Kianicka was named the MVC Freshman of the Year while Dann Nelson was named co-coach of the year with Drake’s Davidson Koziowski. Cavero was also named to the MVC All-Conference First Team.

Nelson said his team exceeded his expectations this year.

“We started off 0-4 and they’ve rushed to finish third place in the conference,” Nelson said. “We started out underachieving and we finished overachieving, so I’m proud of the product that we put out there at the end.”

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], @tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 282