Tennis looks to continue winning streak



Courtney Lubbers prepares for doubles matchup.

Bradley Piros, Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois University women’s tennis team has a busy weekend ahead of them as they travel down to St. Louis to visit the Maryville University Saints and then head back up state to the University of Springfield-Illinois Prairie Stars.

The Leathernecks are currently 6-5 overall but remain 3-3 while facing schools away. They are however on a two-game winning streak, and they look to continue that form moving forward this weekend.

Last time out, Western took on the visiting Missouri State University Bears. The Leathernecks won that match in a spectacular come back fashion. After trailing by 3-1 they were able to bounce back in singles competition to get the 4-3 victory.

Head coach Mirko Bjelica was extremely pleased with the way his team performed.

“The girls did it in singles. On the comeback first Ana (Bjelica) and Mary (Bjelica) won in two sets which set up for a dramatic finish, Natalia (Bravo) won her match in three sets and finally Courtney (Lubbers) came back from a set to win in the decisive and final match.”

Things didn’t start off that well though as the Bears were able to win both the doubles matches and pick up the 1-0 lead early on. The freshman Bjelica sisters, also the coaches two daughters, teamed up in the No. 3 spot but fell short of the victory. Sophomore Natalia Bravo, along with senior partner Courtney Lubbers were in the No. 1 spot, but also dropped in doubles competition.

Western was down 2-0 at this point, so they needed everything they had to try and complete the upset, and they brought out all the stops.

The freshman Bjelica sisters were both able to win their respected singles matches. Ana won hers at the No. 5 spot with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Ellie Burger while Mary (No. 6) won with a pair of 6-4 scores to cut the lead to 3-2. Mary Bjelica is now 6-0 in singles competition.

Lubbers finished off the Bears and completed the comeback with a singles win in three sets over Anelisse Torrico-Morneo. Lubbers went down in the first set 6-4 but rallied with a pair of 6-4 sets of her own to win it all for Western.

“The girls and our fans were ecstatic, and the afternoon swing came our way,” Bjelica said after watching his team battle back for the win.

With the win over the Bears, the team is full of confidence heading into this weekend, but they’ll still have to bring their A-game if they want to get a couple of victories while away. Both of the teams their going up against are on three-game winning streaks, and no one wants to lose that streak.

Last time out, Maryville beat Missouri Baptist 5-3 and USI beat Olivet Nazarene University, so both of these sides are ready to come out against Western and win on their home courts.

These two teams are also some of the last non-conference opponents that Western will face this year, because before they know it, they’ll be in competition with some tough Summit League schools like South Dakota and the University of Denver.

The match starts on Friday at 1 p.m. in St. Louis or you can catch them in action again on Saturday. That game also starts at 1 p.m. in Springfield, Ill. The Leathernecks final home meet will be April 21, against the Quincy University Hawks.

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