For the second time this season, the Indiana State women’s tennis team took on a conference opponent with a long winning streak. For the second time, Indiana State ended that streak, stopping Drake’s seven match winning streak and handing the Bulldogs their first loss in the Missouri Valley with a 5-2 victory on the courts at the Duane Klueh Tennis Complex Saturday.
“This was a very competitive match and very exciting,” Malik Tabet, Indiana State Director of Tennis, said. “We made some mental mistakes and part of my job at this time of year is to exorcise those demons. This was a very good win for our team and for the school.”
For the second straight match, the Sycamores earned the doubles point on a victory at No.2 doubles. ISU freshman Anna Morgina and junior Sofya Lifanova were locked in a fierce battle with Drake’s Jessica Aguilera and Jessica Labarte with seven of the 14 points reaching deuce before the points were decided.
The Sycamore duo came through with five service breaks including one that gave them the lead for good at 4-3. However, Drake did rally from a 7-4 deficit with two straight points but Indiana State was able to hold serve in the final game and earn an 8-6 victory. It was the fourth straight win for Morgina and Lifanova who are now 5-1 in the MVC and 10-5 overall.
At No. 1 doubles, ISU sophomore Sarah Meghoufel and freshman Elmine Botes rallied from a 3-1 deficit with four service breaks and scored the last four points to defeat Drake’s Veronica Leszayova and Morgan Rainey 8-3. It was the second straight win for Botes and Meghoufel, who evened their conference record at 3-3 and are now 6-9 on the season.
In singles action, Lifanova scored the first singles point for Indiana State and evened the match at 2-all with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Labarte at No. 3 singles. Lifanova is now 5-1 in the Valley and 8-8 on the spring season.
Botes put ISU up 3-2 in the match with a straight set win over DU’s Aguilera 6-1, 6-3 at No. 4 singles. Botes has now won seven of here last 10 matches, including the last two, to improve to 5-1 in the Valley and 9-7 this spring.
The team match came down to the top two singles events and it was Meghoufel who gave ISU the victory with a hard fought 6-0 7-6 (7-4) victory over Leszayova at No. 1 singles. Meghoufel had to rally from a 5-3 deficit in the second set to force a tie-breaker, winning the set, and the match, by rallying again in the tie-breaker for a 7-4 win.
Meghoufel remains undefeated in her two seasons of Missouri Valley play as she recorded her 14th straight MVC victory. The Sycamore sophomore has also won eight straight this season and is now 6-0 in the Valley and 10-6 this spring.
Indiana State was able to record their second straight sweep of a conference team and their third of the season when Morgina rallied after dropping the first set 5-7 to win the final two sets 6-1, 6-2. Morgina has won two straight and eight of her last 10 in improving to 5-1 in the Valley and 13-3 this spring.
Indiana State, now 7-9 for the spring and 5-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference, has two conference matches remaining before the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference team championship. The Sycamores will be at Evansville for a 4 p.m. match on Wednesday and then visit southern Illinois for a 2 p.m. match Friday. Indiana State closes out the season by hosting Big Ten opponent Minnesota next Saturday starting at 12:00 p.m.
Drake falls to 10-9 overall and 4-1 in the Missouri Valley with the loss. The Bulldogs, who defeated Bradley 7-0 on Friday, will be at Illinois State on Sunday.