Women’s tennis drops season opener



Mary Bjelica backhanding the ball over the net.

Bradley Piros , Sports Editor

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The Western Illinois University women’s tennis team opened up their spring season on the road at the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. The Leathernecks were unable to win a matchup and ultimately fell 4-0 on the road. They played in six singles matches and three doubles.

Each of the six women on the team were granted a singles opportunity. Starting things off was the freshman from Hollywood, Fla. Mia Melnizki. She lost the first matchup of the day in two sets (6-0, 6-2).

Next was one half of the Bjelica sisters and going first was Ana. The sophomore won the first set 6-2 but fell in the second 6-1. The match was unfinished. Her sister’s match was also unfinished after losing the first set 6-3 and going down 3-1 in the second.

Another freshman Anouk Maajong took to the court after but also fell in two sets (6-2, 6-1). Junior Laura Ballesteros could do no better, being defeated by the same score. That left freshman Megan Tagaloa in the No. 6 position, but her match ended with no result.

The SIU-E Cougars clinched the match 3-0 after singles play but doubles play was still to come.

In the No. 1 spot was Melnizki and Maajong. The pair of freshman fell 6-2. The Bjelica sisters took the No. 2 spot but lost in similar fashion. Concluding the day was the pairing of Ballesteros and Tagaloa who fell 6-0.

This was supposed to be Western’s second match, however their trip to the University of Missouri got cancelled last weekend due to the snow. It’s tough to say how the Leathernecks would have played with a match already under their belt.

Mizzou was by far their toughest opponent on their schedule and I think head coach Mirko Bjelica booked that match for a reason. It’s always good to play a skilled team the first match back because it sets a good bench mark. It sees where the team is at a whole and brings out the things that are needed to be worked on as well as the things that went well.

The match against SIU-E was exactly that. It was more of a learning experience for this young team. With only one upperclassman in Ballesteros, the other five are still rather new to the collegiate tennis scene and it showed in that match.

The good news from this matchup is that it can only get better from here. They’ll look to turn themselves around next weekend when they play another double header. On Feb. 8 the team will take a trip to visit the Missouri State University Bears. The following day the Leathernecks will be at home to host the Creighton University Blue Jays. That match will start at 11 a.m.

Twitter: bradjp08