Tennis splits weekend double-header with Coyotes and Mavericks

Bradley Piros, Sports Editor

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OMAHA, Neb. – The Western Illinois University women’s tennis team took back to the courts over the weekend for the first time since St. Patrick’s Day. Last time out, the Leathernecks were shutout 7-0 to the University of North Dakota.

The team fell in their first match last Friday to the same lopsided 7-0 score, this time to the University of South Dakota Coyotes. It might have been a one-sided score line, but it was much more competitive than the final score shows.

Kicking things off in doubles play was the pairing of freshman Megan Tagaloa and junior Laura Ballesteros in the No. 1 spot, but they fell 5-3 in a close match. Following them in the No. 2 spot were freshman Anouk Maajong and Mia Melnizki. They fell 6-2. Last up were the sophomore sisters Ana and Mary Bjelica in the No. 3 spot. Their efforts weren’t enough and they fell 6-1.

Western’s troubles followed them into singles play where they failed to earn a point. Melnizki, Ballesteros, Tagaloa and Mary Bjelica all fell two sets to none. Her sister Ana was able to force a tie-breaker in the most competitive matchup of the day but fell two sets to one after losing 11-9 in the tiebreaker set. Maajong also pushed through to a tiebreaker set but also fell 2-1 after losing the third set 10-3.

Luckily, the Leathernecks had a day to shake this loss off and that’s exactly what they did. They were able to bounce back and grab a 4-3 victory over the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks.

The Leathernecks started off strong, winning in the No. 1 doubles spot as Tagaloa and Ballesteros won 6-4. The Mavericks did get the 1-0 lead, though, by winning the other two doubles matches 6-4 and 6-1.

Western had to battle back and it wasn’t looking very promising in the opening two singles matches. In the No. 1 spot was Melnizki but she fell in two sets (6-2, 6-4). Ana took to the No. 2 spot but fell in two sets with a pair of 6-3 scores. Her sister Mary was able to pick up Western’s first singles win in dramatic fashion. After losing the first set 6-2 she was immediately able to bounce back to win 6-4 and force a tiebreaker set. She then won two sets to one after winning the third set 6-4.

Now Western believed they could make a comeback. Maajong won in two sets (7-6, 7-5) and so did Ballesteros (6-2, 7-5). Tagaloa won in two sets (6-2, 6-3) and just like that, the comeback was complete.

With those results Western earned their first Summit League win and now sit with a 1-3 conference record. They are currently last in The Summit League standings out of six teams. The top four teams compete in The Summit League Tournament. Western got there last year and they’re be looking to get back there this season.

Western only has one conference match left against the first place Denver Pioneers. Their next match is a non-conference matchup against the University of Missouri Tigers. First serve is this Sunday at 4 p.m. in Columbia, Mo.

Twitter: bradjp08

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