Missouri Tennis Continues to Struggle in Conference Play, Picks Up Non-Conference Victory

: Missouri’s Rachel Stuhlmann prepares to return a hit vs. Kentucky’s Kelsey Dieters on Sunday, March 9 at the Green Tennis Center in Columbia, Mo. Stuhlmann won the match 6-3, 6-3.

Missouri’s Rachel Stuhlmann prepares to return a hit vs. Kentucky’s Kelsey Dieters on Sunday, March 9 at the Green Tennis Center in Columbia, Mo. Stuhlmann won the match 6-3, 6-3.

Story by Ky Bright
Photos by Dan Shapiro

COLUMBIA — The Missouri women’s tennis team dropped its fourth conference match in a row on Sunday. Missouri fell to No. 22 Kentucky 4-2. After losses to South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt the Tigers are off to a 0-4 start in Southeastern Conference play.

“It has been very challenging for us. I have had to keep everybody positive to know how close we are,” coach Sasha Schmid said.

The match began with doubles. In No. 2 doubles Nadia Ravita and Aldila Sutjiadi of Kentucky defeated Missouri’s Madison Rhyner and Cassidy Spearman 8-6.

The No. 3 doubles match also went to Kentucky. The Wildcats’ Kirsten Lewis and Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff handled Kelli Hine and Tracy Dong of Missouri, 8-2. Thanks to those two victories the Wildcats were able to secure the doubles point.

Schmid said the opportunity to get the doubles point was out there. The ability to not be able to close out the match may have been the difference, she said.

The No.1 doubles the match went unfinished. Missouri’s Cierra Gaytan-Leach and Rachel Stuhlmann were leading Kentucky’s CeCe Witten and Caitlin McGraw 7-6, when Kentucky clinched the doubles point.

In the No. 1 singles match, Ravita beat Gaytan-Leach, 6-4, 6-4. For a majority of the match the two were even, but in the end Ravita’s serve was too much.

In the No. 2 singles match the Tigers captured their first point of the day.  Hine defeated Sutjiadi in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. Missouri would also take the point at No. 3 singles as Stuhlmann beat Kelsey Dieters of Kentucky, 6-3, 6-3.  That tied the match at 2.

The No. 4 singles match was competitive to the very end. Lewis outlasted, 3-6, 7-6 (3-0), 6-4.  Hine said that type of match shows where Missouri is at as a team.

“We are right there even if the final scores don’t show it,” Hine said.

Schmid said that has been the Tiger’s story all season.

“At this point in the season we take no comfort in knowing that we were close again,” Schmid said.

The final point of the match was the No. 6 singles match. Kentucky’s Stephanie Fox beat Dong, 6-0, 6-1. From the first serve Fox was able to overpower Dong with her forehand. Dong spent much of the match playing defense from behind the baseline.

In an unfinished single’s match Spearman was battling back after dropping the first set to McGraw. Spearman took the second set and was leading in the final set 3-1. Kentucky improves to 13-3 (3-1 SEC) on the season.

Missouri vs. No.22 Kentucky results:

Singles

  1. No. 51 Nadia Ravita, Kentucky defeated Cierra Gaytan-Leach, Missouri – 6-4, 6-4
  2. Kelli Hine, Missouri defeated Aldila Sutjiadai, Kentucky – 6-4, 6-4
  3. Rachel Stuhimann, Missouri defeated Kelsey Dieters, Kentucky – 6-4, 6-4
  4. Kirsten Lewis, Kentucky defeated Madison Rhyner, Missouri – 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4
  5. Cassidy Spearman, Missouri vs. Caitlin McGraw, Kentucky – 3-6, 6-2, 3-1 unfinished
  6. Stephanie Fox, Kentucky defeated Tracy Dong, Missouri – 6-0, 6-1

Doubles

  1. Cierra Gaytan-Leach/Rachel Stuhimann, Missouri vs. CeCe Witten/Caitlin McGraw, Kentucky – 7-6 unfinished
  2. No. 57 Nadia Ravita/Aldila Sutjiadi, Kentucky defeated Cassidy Spearman/ Madison Rhyner. Missouri – 8-6
  3. Kirsten Lewis/Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff, Kentucky defeated Tracy Dong/ Kelli Hine, Missouri – 8-2

In the second match of the day the play moved from inside to the outside courts of the new Mizzou Tennis Complex against Bradley. This match wasn’t even on the schedule three weeks ago. According to Schmid there was one reason for this match.

“We need to get to .500 to make the NCAA tournament. So we need to pick up wins,” Schmid said.

The Tigers did just that as it overmatched Bradley 7-0. In doubles Missouri took the 1-0 lead, as all three doubles teams were able to win in easy fashion.

In singles it was much of the same story.  The Tigers swept the singles points as well. Missouri in five of the six matches won in straight sets. Tracy Dong was able to avenge her loss from earlier in the day.

“We have to use these matches to remember how to win,” Dong said. She added even though they have had a tough start to the season matches like this are also important for the team from a confidence standpoint.

The .500 record to make the NCAA tournament is a rule that has only been enforced for two years.

“I really think for those of us in the SEC it is a tough rule,” Schmid said.

So picking up wins like the one over Bradley are important for Missouri to reach the tournament. A final aspect coach hopes the players take from this match is the ability to close out matches that can carry over to the SEC matches.

Missouri vs. Bradley results:

Singles

  1. Kelli Hine, Missouri defeated Adele Henke, Bradley – 6-1,6-1
  2. Cierra Gaytan- Leach, Missouri defeated Ariel Dechter, Bradley – 6-1,3-6,1-0 (10-7)
  3. Rachel Stuhimann, Missouri defeated Ashley Thai, Bradley – 6-1, 6-2
  4. Cassidy Spearman, Missouri defeated Sarah Rodefeld – 6-1, 6-2
  5. Madison Rhyner, Missouri defeated Carly Miles, Bradley – 6-2, 6-1
  6. Tracy Dong, Missouri defeated Cassia Wojtalik, Bradley – 6-1, 6-0

Doubles

  1. Cierra Gaytan-Leach/Rachel Stuhimann, Missouri defeated Adele Henke/Sarah Rodefeld, Bradley – 8-0
  2. Cassidy Spearman/Madison Rhyner, Missouri defeated Carly Miles/Ashley Thai, Bradley- 8-1
  3. Tracy Dong/Kelli Hine, Missouri defeated Ariel Dechter/ Cassia Wojtalik, Bradley 8-1

After the Bradley match Missouri is 5-10 (0-4 SEC) on the season. The Tigers will continue its five-match home stand on Friday when they face LSU.

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