Earlier this month, the Drake women’s tennis team traveled to Valparaiso, Indiana to compete in the Missouri Valley Conference Individual Championship.
Instead of competing in dual matches, this tournament was designed to be made up of individual brackets based on what position a person played. Each school had one player compete in every bracket.
In the singles one bracket from Drake, senior Liza Petushkova won her first-round match 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 and advanced to the semifinals. After a close two-set match, Petushkova lost 6-4, 6-3 to Bradley University’s Sandra Maletin.
Senior Daria Walczak played in the singles two bracket for Drake. Walczak lost her first-round match 6-4, 6-0 and then went on to win her next matches in the singles two bracket. Walczak defeated Alyson Piskulic from Missouri State in the back draw 6-2, 6-4.
Sophomore Ines Stephani competed in the singles three bracket for the Bulldogs. Stephani won her first match 6-3, 6-2 against Missouri State’s Sandra Lukacova. In the semifinals, Stephani won her match against Bradley with a score of 6-2, 6-4. In a tough three-set match, Stephani won the final match of the MVC Individual Championships with a score of 0-6, 7-5, 6-3, becoming the champion of the singles three bracket.
“I think the team competed throughout the whole weekend; it was great to see us bring home a couple of brackets,” Stephani said.
Sophomore Mille Haagensen from Drake competed in the singles four bracket. Haagensen was the first seed of the bracket, so she received a bye from the first round and was automatically sent into the semifinals in which she competed against Valparaiso’s Demi Jhaveri and secured a 6-3, 6-1 win to advance to the finals. Haagensen competed against Tara Damnjanovic from Illinois State in the finals and cruised through to get a 6-0, 6-2 win to take home the singles four bracket.
Sophomore Darinka Stepan competed in the singles five bracket for Drake. Stepan received a bye for the first round and was automatically sent to the semifinals of the tournament. In her first-round match, she competed against Valparaiso and got a 6-3, 6-1 win. In the finals, Stepan competed against Bradley for the title. With a 6-1, 7-6(2) win Stepan won the singles five bracket with this victory.
Senior Kelsey Neville competed in the singles six bracket for Drake. Neville won her first match 6-1, 6-3 against University of Northern Iowa’s Issa Sullivan to advance to the semifinals of the singles six bracket. After a close match, Neville lost to Bradley 6-2, 7-6(4) in the semifinals. Neville won her last match against Valparaiso 6-2, 6-2 to get third place in the singles six bracket.
Nicole Lee competed in the singles seven bracket for Drake as well as junior Rebecca Ehn. Lee lost her first-round match in a close three set match with scores of 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Ehn also had a close three-set match against Bradley with Bradley winning that match 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6). Lee continued to fight throughout the tournament to win the back draw of the singles seven bracket.
In the doubles one bracket, Petushkova and Stephani won their first-round match 8-3 against University of Northern Iowa to advance to the semifinal round. In the doubles two bracket Haagensen and Stepan won their first-round match against Missouri State 8-2, won their second match 8-4 against Bradley and finally won in the final round against Illinois State 8-5. Neville and Ehn won their first-round doubles match 8-0 to advance to the semifinals.
Freshman Mille Haagensen explained her thoughts about her first time at the tournament.
“This was a really fun tournament to compete in. I think the team did great,” Haagensen said. “This was my first time playing in the tournament and it’s great to be able to contribute by winning a draw for the team.”
The Bulldogs still have one more tournament to compete in this fall, the Bulldog Classic, which will be played here at home Nov. 5-7.