Daily Egyptian

Women’s tennis has a sluggish start to season

By Tyler Davis

The SIU women’s tennis team opened its season Saturday at the University of Arkansas and went winless against two nationally ranked teams.

No. 49 Arkansas defeated SIU 7-0 and No. 63 University of North Texas swept the Salukis, 4-0. Coach Audra Anderson attributed the losses to the stiff competition and inexperience. Both Arkansas and North Texas played in tournaments prior to the Salukis season opener.

“It was our first match and Arkansas’ 6th match,” Anderson said. “The first match you have is not going to be your best tennis. You’re going to have the nerves and you’re just not going to play your best.”

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Anderson admitted the winless weekend was a disappointing start for the team that had just set an SIU record for season wins, but said the team started to play better as the day progressed.

Freshman Megan Monaghan said she saw improvement in the team as well.

“Arkansas is so tough, so we started a little slow, but we got it going against North Texas,” she said. “We stepped it up and gave them some good matches.”

Arkansas sophomore Kimberly Ann-Surin, who competed in the U.S Open, and sophomore Yang Pang, who defeated three nationally ranked opponents during the fall season, lead the team.

Anderson said she expects to see Arkansas fair well in the Southeastern Conference this year and said the high level of competition was good for SIU.

“Arkansas is very good. They have a great chance to go to the NCAA tournament as a team,” she said. “They’ve got a nationally ranked doubles team, at least one, and they have two players who are nationally ranked in singles. We want to play teams like that.”

Anderson said the Salukis should expect to face teams like Arkansas and North Texas this year because of last years’ success, which will better prepare the team for conference play.

“I told the team this is the level we need to be at,” Anderson said. “After a year like we had last year, we’re scheduling tougher teams.”

Junior Natasha Tomishima said she also saw the improvement in the team’s play. Tomishima, a contender for conference titles in single and doubles this year, dropped her first match against Pang, but was leading her second match.

After Tomishima lost the first set 6-4, the second set was tied at 3-3, but Arkansas had acquired enough points to win the singles portion of the tournament, and all singles play ended.

The same thing happened during Tomishima’s doubles match with partner, senior Korey Love.

“Me and Korey couldn’t finish the doubles, but I felt like we started playing well,” Tomishima said. “We started playing better and we were coming back, so it was good. I wished we could have finished though.”

They were trailing in the first set, 6-5, before officials ended the match.

“If we would have kept playing we would have won two matches, if not three,” Anderson said. “But North Texas had to drive back home so they called it when [Arkansas] won.”

With four freshmen expected to get playing time, Anderson said the experience is needed to account for the possibility of injuries.

Junior Ariadna Cairo Baza was held out of a match during the tournament for precautionary reasons with what Anderson called a “slight muscle pull” but expects Baza to be fine.

“After that North Texas match, I feel like we need to get a little bit deeper throughout our lineup so that we’re prepared when we have injuries,” Anderson said. “It exposes your weaknesses when you play good teams like that. It helps you plan the practices for the next week.”

The team plays next against Eastern Illinois University Friday in Danville.

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected] on Twitter @tdavis_DE, or 536-3311 ext. 269

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