Outnumbered Salukis salvage weekend tournament

By Symone Woolridge


A pittance of three, which included two of the youngest Salukis, packed for out-of-state travel as they concluded their fall season during the weekend.

The team included the members who did not travel to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships Oct. 17- 20 in Oklahoma.


The women intended to arrive at Arkansas State University with the group of four, but one of the upperclassmen endured a slight injury.

Junior Gisela Cairo Baza was expected to travel alongside her team and twin sister Ariadna Cairo Baza before a pulled hamstring got in the way.

Ariadna was left without a sister and a doubles partner. She was only able to compete in two singles competitions.

Coach Audra Anderson said the two freshmen would have to play hard in order to take home wins.

Although the outnumbered team was short in members, they were not short in talent. Each day of the two-day tournament, the Salukis picked up wins.

Schools such as Southeast Missouri State University, Murray State University, Belmont University, the University of Central Arkansas and Arkansas State University were in attendance.

Freshmen Polina Dozortseva and Lauren Hoekstra ended their Saturday night with two wins and a loss in singles matches. The freshmen are also a doubles team, and paired up in flight No. 3 doubles matches. The Salukis fought hard as they defeated the Belmont doubles team, but fell short to SEMO. The duo finished the night with an overall 1-2 record. They both said they tried hard to make their tournaments fun and not as intense.


Dozortseva said it was lonely without the entire team in attendance, but it was maintainable. Dozortseva defeated Belmont’s Nikki Maciel in a close match 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 before defeating Abbey Mather of Belmont 6-2, 6-0 in Flight No. 3 consolation finals.

“Everybody else had their whole team there and we were the only ones with just a few people,” Dozortseva said. “But it’s still a tournament and how many people are there doesn’t effect winning.”

The women were on the sidelines cheering each other on, as they showed others that the amount of support was not going to bring them down, Hoekstra said.

Hoekstra defeated competition in flight No. 4, picking up wins against Jenna Kraku 6-4, 6-0 and Anne Fiepke of Belmont 6-4, 6-1.

“We are used to having everyone with us so it was just a little different only having two other people there,” Hoekstra said. “Especially when we went into a huddle, it was just us three and coach.”

Hoekestra said despite being outnumbered, she and her teammates still had a lot of fun, and continued to show their team support.

Hoekstra said she enjoyed her first year of college tennis and her time with her doubles teammate. The doubles team worked to feed off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses as they competed.

“Polina is a lot more aggressive and I am more of the timid one,” Dozortseva said.

Although the newcomers had a successful weekend, teammate Cairo Baza had a tough time in singles competition.

Baza did not take home any singles wins, but due to the odd number of Salukis, Baza was forced to conjoin with a woman of the opposite team. She paired up with Suzaan Stoltz of Murray State. The doubles duo advanced all the way to finals.

Baza and Stoltz of Murray State competed in Flight No. 4 doubles defeating the Murray State doubles team 8-7.

Anderson said the Salukis now have the ability to work on their weaknesses.

“Since we only brought three players, they had to play in tougher flights than they were used to,” Anderson said in a Saluki Athletics press release. “Overall, I thought we did pretty well, and now we have an idea of what we have to work on this season.”

The young Salukis said they would like to improve various parts of their game. Hoekstra said she, as an individual would like to improve on her offense the most, but said she could use improvements everywhere.

Traveling from Russia, Dozortseva said she has drastically gotten better and has adapted to American tennis. Dozortseva would like to improve to work her way up to playing at a higher level.

“I just want to be more consistent and be more aggressive than I already am,” she said. “I just want to brush up on the basic things.”

“Next season is really the most important because we have the Missouri Valley Conference,” Hoekstra said. “I would like to improve on everything because I want to get better for my team.”

The Salukis will begin their spring season on the road against Arkansas State in February.