Women’s tennis celebrate senior day


Josh Purnell / Courier Staff

Natalia Bravo winds up for the swing.

Bradley Piros, Courier Staff

MACOMB Ill. – The Western Illinois women’s tennis team will finish their regular season at home tomorrow morning when they take on the visiting Quincy University Hawks. The Leathernecks head into this game 10-7 on the season and 3-1 at home.

The Hawks are coming to Macomb on a seven-game skid and sit at only 4-10 on the season. They are 1-4 on the road.

The Leathernecks have won their last two contests against the South Dakota State University Jack Rabbits at home and Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts on the road. Both matches ended 6-1 in favor of the Purple and Gold.

Western was supposed to play last weekend against the University of Denver Colorado Pioneers but was postponed due to the weather. That means they haven’t been in competition since March 31, when they dominated ORU.

This isn’t the first time these teams have met this year, as they squared off in the Quincy Invitational back in September. Western didn’t lose a single set, as they were up against the Hawks, Truman State University and St. Francis University.

Sophomore Natalia Bravo won in two sets with a pair of 6-0 scores in the No. 1 singles spot. Senior Courtney Lubbers did the same in the No. 2 spot to gain a commanding lead. The two would later team up in doubles competition and win 9-7 and 8-4.

The Leathernecks finished that match undefeated for their second win of the fall season. Now they have the opportunity to beat them again and finish out their spring season on a three-game winning streak.

Last time out for Quincy was against Drury University as they lost 6-0 at home. It was their fourth straight loss at home.

It’s Western final home game, which also means it’ll be senior day. The team only has eight women to begin with, and three of them will be departing from Western this spring. Lubbers along with Maria Bessmertnaya and Cary Milanes say goodbye.

All three have been terrific in singles competition and whenever Lubbers and Bravo teamed together, they were trouble. She was a dominant force in the No. 1 spot since her freshman year at Western. She earned Summit League “Player of the Week” once in her sophomore year, and just continued to get better over her collegiate career.

Bessmertnaya was a transfer from the University of Akron, but also was named one of the top 50 tennis players in the Russian national rankings. She was a reliable option in the No. 2 singles spot and has recorded close to 40 matches for Western.

Last but certainty not least, Milanes was a transfer from Valparaiso who put up a 7-13 singles record last year. The Florida native finished 8-11 in doubles play. Her and her two teammates will be missed by their team as well as head coach Mirko Bjelica very much.

They aren’t quite done yet though. They look to put on a stellar performance for the last time in front of their home crowd, but most importantly, gain some success in the Summit League tournament next weekend.

The meet will begin at 9 a.m. tomorrow against the visiting Quincy University Hawks.