Tennis continues hot start, sweeps SEMO

This weekend, the Sugar Bears improved their record to 3-0, remaining a perfect 7-0 this season, after a sweeping win over Southeast Missouri State.

The Bears jumped out to an impressive sweep in the doubles, bringing UCA a 1-0 lead on the day.

UCA seniors Kelsey Williams and Allison Murphy had the day’s first match, winning their set 6-2 over the Redhawk’s freshmen Mariya Kotsyuk and Vivian Ortiz.

The Bears’ junior Nataly Yoo and senior Cassidy Crawford took the second win in doubles, beating out freshmen Kateryna Stoianova and Anna Makhneva 6-2.

Doubles play wrapped up with UCA senior Kristina Horsikyan and junior Bianca Strukelj winning 6-3 over SEMO senior Melissa Martin and freshman Maria Montenegro.

Once UCA’s singles commenced, they continued their domination against the Redhawks without letting more than two set wins in each of the first three matches. Yoo knocked out Kotsyuk 6-2, 6-2.

Williams went on to beat Stoianova 6-1, 6-2 in the second match. Horsikayn nearly shut out Makhneva on sets, winning 6-1, 6-0.

Crawford kept the wins going with a 6-1, 6-1 win. Murphy won her match 6-3, 6-2 over Montenegro leading into the day’s only tough match, where Strukelj won her sets against Annisa Warasanti 6-0, 7-6 to clinch the shutout for the Sugar Bears.

To keep consistency for play throughout the season Coach Casey Wharton is adamant on keeping focused while in pre conference play.

Williams said focus is perfected in practice.

“Coach [Wharton] has us focusing on our net play and consistency to not give up any free points,” she said.

The Sugar Bears have four seniors this year on the roster, who intend to leave on a high note.

“We all want to go out with a bang this season since it is our last, so we are all focused as ever to give it our all no matter who our opponent is,” Williams said.

With conference play quickly approaching, the Sugar Bears have been working to get their doubles down pat and their singles game on point.

“Right now it is one match at a time,” Williams said. “So before we head into conference play, it is important that we are trying different combination in doubles and perfecting everything so that we can be prepared for conference play. So we definitely take it one match at a time right now.”

Though focus is key, the Sugar Bears feel confident heading into conference play.

“We feel really good heading into conference play and I think these matches have made us all feel really confident in our games,” Murphy said.

That confidence, in part, is due to team’s cohesiveness and the intensity that seems to be propelling the Sugar Bears to an impressive season.

“I think we all keep each other focused, and since it is early in the season, we just need to keep up the intensity,” Murphy said.

The Bears return to the court at 1 p.m. Feb. 14 at home against the Southern Illinois University Salukis.

Sam Trawick is Greek God

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