Tennis continues hot start, improves record to 5-0 after beating Salukis

The Bears maintained their perfect record, beating the Arkansas State University Red Wolves (1-4) 6-1 Feb. 9 and beating the Southern Illinois University Salukis (1-6) 5-2 Feb. 14, both at UCA’s tennis courts.

The two wins brought the Bears to a 5-0 record, but were the first two games UCA did not sweep.

Senior Kelsey Williams said the Bears played tougher teams than their previous opponents.

“We knew coming into it that it was most likely not going to be a sweep and that they were never going to just hand us the match,” she said.

Senior Allison Murphy said the tougher teams gave the Bears competition.

“But I still think we have been playing great,” she said.

Williams said all of the players had to give it their all.

“As a team, we can rely on one another to always give our best,” she said. “Especially seeing as four out of our eight players are seniors. Everyone wants to work hard so us seniors can have one big last season.”

The Bears took all three doubles matches against the Salukis, continuing their perfect record in doubles play for the year.

Junior Nataly Yoo and senior Cassidy Crawford defeated SIU senior Natasha Tomishima and sophomore Meagan Monaghan 6-4 in the No. 1 match, pushing their record to 4-0 for the season.

Williams and Murphy won 6-2 against freshman Vitoria Beirao and sophomore Polina Dozortseva in the No. 2 match, bringing their record to 5-0 for the season.

Senior Kristina Horsikyan and junior Bianca Strukelj defeated SIU senior Ariadna Cairo Baza and freshman Yana Golovkina 6-2 in the No. 3 match, moving to 4-0 for the season.

UCA and SIU split the first four singles matches, leaving matches 1 and 2 to decide the match.

Horsikyan defeated freshman Athena Chrysanthou 6-3, 6-1, moving to 4-0 for the year.

Murphy defeated Baza 6-1, 6-2, moving to 5-0 for the season.

SIU answered with a 6-3, 6-1 win from senior Gisela Cairo Baza against Crawford, then Golovkina beat Strukelj 6-1, 6-1.

After each being forced to three sets, Yoo and Williams both picked up a win to secure the Bears’ victory.

Yoo dropped the first set before coming back to defeat Tomishima 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the No. 1 match, pushing her record to 4-0 for the season.

After winning the first set, Williams lost the second one before coming back to claim the third, beating Monaghan 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 in the No. 2 match and moving to 5-0 for the year.

The team now faces a month of road games.

“We haven’t played any games on the road so it will be interesting to see if we can keep a perfect record on the road,” Williams said. “I think every game we play we go into it thinking it will be a tough opponent because you never no whether they are going to be on their game or off it.”

Murphy said the team would play a lot of points and practice matches to get prepared.

The Bears will start their road games in Ruston, Louisiana, facing Tyler Junior College at 1 p.m. Feb. 21 and Louisiana Tech at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 22.

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