Missouri Tennis gets first SEC victory

By Ky Bright 

The Missouri women’s tennis team captured its first conference victory over Mississippi State 4-2. The Tigers came into the match with a 0-11 conference record. Head coach Sasha Schmid gathered the team before the start of the match and told them how it would play out.

“I have a vision of how this is going to go. Let me tell you. I think Alex is going to clinch it,” said coach Schmid.

A little over three hours later coach’s vision came to reality as Alex Clark clinched the victory for the Tigers with a cross-court forehand winner. Clark dropped her racquet and embraced her coach as the rest of the team followed.

“It’s so so emotional and it just feels great,” said Clark.

This was Clark’s first victory since the passing of her mother in December 2013. Clark’s mother, Ali Clark lost her battle with breast cancer. Ali Clark was the one who taught Alex Clark the game of tennis and her mom was her best friend said coach Schmid. Ali Clark was huge fan of Missouri tennis she said. Her mom’s passing would sideline her for most of the season until the beginning of April.

“It really helped us to have Alex Clark back on this team,” said coach Schmid. “I think the impact of her on this team was felt tonight,” she said.

The match began with doubles. Missouri started the doubles point off in dominant fashion as the Tigers No.3 doubles of Kelli Hine/Cassidy Spearman shut out the Bulldog’s 8-0.

The deciding match for the doubles point was the No.1 doubles. Missouri’s Cierra Gaytan-Leach/Rachel Stuhlmann would force a tiebreak, but Mississippi’s St. Alexandra Perper/Naomi Tran would pull it out 8-7(4). Not being able to finish matches like these have troubled the Tigers all season long,

“We couldn’t close, part of it is we don’t know how to actually close,” said coach Schmid.

Coach worried that this lack of closing would carry over, but the Tigers were able to bounce back in singles.

Missori’s Cassidy Spearman captured the Tigers first point of the match as she defeated Rosalinda Calderon in straight sets. Missouri also would get singes points at No. 1 and No.6. The Bulldogs came back as Timea Gilbe defeated Missouri’s Rachel Stuhlmann in straight sets. Narrowing Missouri’s lead to 3-2.

Then the crowd’s attention shifted to court five to watch the finale of Clark’s match. Clark battled all match. She trailed 4-0 in the first set, but made a comeback taking the first set 6-4. She lead the second set 5-2, but would drop the next to two games. Making it 5-4 in the second set. On her serve she was able to close it out and give the Tigers its first SEC victory of the season.

“I just wanted to leave it all out on the court and I’m happy we all did that every single one of us,” said Clark.

Coach Schmid said it has been a long time coming in what has been a tough season for the Tigers. Not only was it the first conference win of the season, but also the first win in the new Mizzou Tennis Complex. Getting this win coach Schmid said can help build momentum that could carry over to the conference tournament.

Missouri will close out the regular season with a double header on Sunday, April 13 against Ole Miss and UMKC. Then the Tigers will host the SEC women’s tennis tournament on April 16 to April 20.

Results: Missouri-4, Mississippi State -2

Singles

  1. Cierra Gayton-Leach, Missouri defeated #66 Georgiana Patrasc, Mississippi St. – 6,4,6-4
  2. Kelli Hine, Missouri defeated Alexandra Perper Mississippi St. – 6-3,6-2
  3. Timea Guibe, Mississippi St. defeated Rachel Stuhlmann, Missouri – 6-4,6-4
  4. Roseline Dion, Mississippi St. vs. Madison Rhyner, Missouri -7-5,5-3 unfinished
  5. Alex Clark, Missouri defeated Naomi Tran, Mississippi St. – 6-4,6-4
  6. Cassidy Spearman, Missouri defeated Rosalinda Calderon, Mississippi St, – 6-3,6-3

Doubles

  1. Alexandra Perper/Naomi Tran defeated Cierra Gaytan-Leach/Rachel Stuhlmann- 8-7(4)
  2. Roseline Dion/Timea Guibe, Mississippi St. def. Alex Clark/ Madison Ryner. Missouri – 8-6
  3. Kelli Hine/ Cassidy Spearman, Missouri defeated Petra Ferancova/Georgiana Patrasc, Mississippi St. – 8-0
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