NORMAL, Ill. — The Redbird duo of Natalia Lech and Tanja Hrovatic won their third-straight doubles match to clinch the doubles point, but it was not enough as the Illinois State women’s tennis team’s fell to the 2008 Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament champions Indiana State, 4-3, Sunday at Evergreen Racquet Club.
“This loss really hurts,” said head coach Chris Hoover. “We definitely had opportunities to win that we missed out on. With a team like Indiana State, if you do not capitalize on those opportunities, they will come back and win it all. That is what happened in this match.”
The Redbirds fall to 9-7 overall and 1-1 in the Valley on the season, while the Sycamores improve their record to 4-8 in overall dual play and 2-0 in the Valley. The Sycamores have won 15-consecutive conference matches. The streak dates back to the 2008 season when Indiana State went undefeated in conference play, going 11-0.
The contest began with doubles play, where the Redbirds took the doubles point. In Flight 2, the Redbird duo of Lech and Hrovatic dominated Sarah Meghoufel and Elmine Botes (INS), 8-1, to mark their third-straight doubles win. In Flight 1, Julia Zubkova and Franziska Steinhardt bested Sofia Lifanova and Anna Morgina (INS), 8-3. In Flight 3 doubles, Illinois State won by default as Indiana State only had four players.
“I am really proud of how Natalia and Tanja played in doubles,” said Hoover. “They have not played as well as they did today (March 29) in awhile. They did not give Indiana State time to breathe or get momentum, and that is what they needed to do to win.”
Indiana State had to forfeit singles Flights 5 and 6, putting the Redbirds in the lead, 3-0. However, Illinois State could not keep up its momentum from doubles play, going 0-4 in the remaining singles flights.
In Flight 1, Zubkova fell to Meghoufel (INS), 7-5, 6-2, while Morgina (INS) defeated Steinhardt, 7-5, 6-0, in Flight 2. In Flight 3, Lech lost to Lifanova (INS), 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, as Hrovatic fell to Botes, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, in Flight 4.
The Redbirds return to conference play Friday (April 3) as they travel to play No. 66 Wichita State at 3 p.m.
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