by KENDALL HUNT
The Drake women’s tennis team made an impressive finish at their fall closer – the MVC Individual Championships. Action began at 9 AM this Friday at the University of Northern Iowa and continued on until Sunday. This was Drake’s first conference competition against their MVC division of Bradley, Illinois State, Missouri State, UNI, Valparaiso, and Stony Brook. Sophia Haleas, a senior on the Drake team, claimed the championship title in the No.4 singles division. Drake also earned several second, third, and fifth place finishes as well.
“This was a good tournament for us,” said Coach Tran. “Every time we go out, we get better and better. As we continue to improve, we hope to build our game going into the spring.”
The first day, four Drake players and one doubles team advanced to the semifinals of their respective brackets. Drake’s top four players – Carmen Palumbo, Liza Petushkova, Maria Tatarnikova, and Sophia Haleas, who pulled out a tough three-set victory over Bradley’s Victoria Sanchez-Bronzetti – won singles matches to advance. The doubles team of Joely Lomas and Carmen Palumbo also earned a victory and pushed them into the semis. Players Kendall Hunt and Megan Webb collected wins in the singles consolation brackets as well.
The Bulldogs rode the high into the second day of play, continuing to earn big wins in doubles and singles. Lomas and Palumbo came back from 4-6 to defeat Bradley’s Lojpur and Perlwit 8-6 and move on to the No.1 doubles finals. Additionally, Petushkova and Haleas fought to win their singles matches against Missouri State and both earned a spot in the finals for their divisions. Webb and Petushkova also won a close doubles match, and Webb pulled out a third-set victory against Bradley to take 5th place overall in her singles division.
On the final day of competition, Drake continued to play well and finished strong with four singles wins and a win in doubles. Sophia pulled out an incredible 7-5, 6-2 against Stonybrook’s Kristine Theys to take the MVC Flight No. 4 Singles Championship Title. Palumbo also played a tough match, pulling out a close 6-7, 6-2, 10-3 win over Illinois State, taking third place in the competitive No. 1 singles division. And, to add on to these wins, newcomers Kendall Hunt and Masha Tatarnikova earned quick wins in singles, placing 5th and 3rd respectively. The doubles team of Palumbo and Lomas fell 6-8 to Missouri State in the final; however, they placed second overall in the No.1 doubles division. Tatarnikova and Kelsey Neville bounced back with a win to place third in the No. 3 doubles division, and ended the day on a high note.
“Life is too short not to have fun on the tennis court,” notes junior Masha Tatarnikova, who placed third in the No. 3 singles and doubles division. And given this, the team had a great experience at the MVC Championships, gaining crucial match experience and focusing on positive mental energy heading into the anticipated spring season.
The Drake tennis team’s main fall season is completed, but several of the players will be headed to Oklahoma and California in the next few weeks to compete at regionals.