The 3-3 Sugar Bears returned to the tennis courts last weekend, visiting the Salukis of Southern Illinois and in-state rival Arkansas State.
The Sugar Bears faced off against the 7-3 Salukis, who were undefeated at home and riding a six game winning streak into the matches. Southern Illinois came into the doubles portion of the day strong, with Xiwei Cai and Ana Sofia Cordero defeating UCA’s Nataly Yoo and Amiru Shimoguchi 6-2 and Vitoria Beirao and Meagan Monaghan beating the Bears’ team of Xylia Chunan Xiang and Marli Van Heerden 6-3.
This would give the Salukis the 2-0 victory in doubles as QiLi Ma and Rada Manataweewat’s match with Athena Chrysanthou and Yana Golovkina would go unfinished with them trailing 4-5.
The Bears would turn things around quickly in singles with Xylia Chunan Xiang quickly taking down Athena Chrysanthou in straight sets, 6-0, 6-1. SIU would come back soon after, however, as Xiwei Cai beat Nataly Yoo 6-4, 6-0 to put the Salukis back in the lead 2-1.
UCA’s QiLi Ma and SIU’s Meagan Monaghan followed this up with an intense three- set match. QiLi would take an especially close first set 7-6 before falling 4-6 in the second set. Ma would come through in the clutch in set number three, winning 7-6 and tying things back up 2-2.
Amiru Shimoguchi kept things going strongly for UCA, defeating Ana Sofia Cordero 7-6, 6-4. This gave the Sugar Bears a 3-2 advantage and either Marli Van Heerden or Rada Manataweewat a chance to clinch the day with a victory in either of their coinciding singles matches.
The freshman Van Heerdan would make the most of the opportunity, winning a three-set- battle against Yana Golovkina 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to give the Bears a 4-2 overall victory for the day. Manataweewat’s match would go unfinished with her trailing 6-2, 3-0.
This would improve UCA’s record to 4-3 and end SIU’s long winning streak, as well as giving them their first home loss of the season.
UCA would carry their momentum from the day before into the doubles portion of matches with Nataly Yoo and Amiru Shimoguchi ending their short doubles losing streak with a 6-1 victory over Victoria Roberts and Julie Gauguery and QiLi Ma and Rada Manataweewat following soon after with a 6-2 win over Sabina Jeresic and Sofia Krsmanovic to give the Bears the doubles point in the day’s games.
Amiru Shimoguchi continued her stellar play in singles competition, defeating Victoria Roberts 6-3, 6-2 to drive her singles record to 7-1 on the season and extend her winning streak to four. Shelby King would soon get ASU on the board with a 6-3, 6-3 win over QiLi Ma, but Xylia Chunan Xiang would fire right back by defeating the Red Wolves’ Julie Gauguery 6-4, 6-3.
Senior Krizia Buck was especially impressed with Rada, saying, “This weekend I’d say that Rada stood out to me. She didn’t play well Saturday in Illinois, but she didn’t let it bother her. The very next morning she was able totakecontrolofthematchearly and earn the fourth and deciding point for us. She could’ve easily been down on herself and played timid, but she went out swinging with a great attitude.”
This victory brought UCA to 5-3 on the season and marks the first time this year.
Senior Krizia Buck returned to action on the morning of Feb. 21 against ASU in a match that would go unfinished, playing her first match in nearly two years.
Fellow senior Nataly Yoo was very impressed with her performance, saying “She hasn’t played in about two years because of her shoulder injury but she went out against ASU and was taking care of business as if she hadn’t stopped playing. I really wish she would’ve gotten the chance to finish out the match.”
The Sugar Bears will return to play this weekend, hosting Southland Conference opponents Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 24, 2016 print edition of The Echo.
image via UCA Sports