COLUMBIA – The Missouri women’s tennis team split its first two home matches of the spring season this weekend.
The Tigers got off to a quick start against Minnesota Saturday, with sophomore Kaitlyn Ritchie and senior Jessica Giuggioli winning the first doubles match. Freshman Danielle Day and senior Sofia Ayala continued the success, leading 7-4 in the No. 3 doubles spot, MU looked poised to win the doubles point.
But Day and Ayala dropped five-straight games, giving the Golden Gophers the doubles point after the teams split the first two doubles matches.
“I think we both just got nervous,” Day said. “We were excited we were up and we just didn’t close it out.”
Minnesota rode the swing of momentum from doubles into singles play. The Golden Gophers swept the first four matches, ensuring them the win. The Tigers didn't come out empty-handed in singles matches. Ritchie and Ayala earned tough wins at the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, respectively.
Coach Blake Starkey said he was disappointed with the 5-2 loss, but said he was happy with how the Tigers started the match.
“We put ourselves in position to win,” he said.
But, Starkey said, “We have to be able to finish people off.”
Friday night's match against Drake University (3-6) went a bit better for MU women's tennis. After four hours of play, Ritchie won the deciding match for Missouri (4-3), earning them a win over Drake .
Ritchie battled back from being down 5-3, to take the first set in a tiebreaker.
“Once I won the first set, I knew that I just needed to start the first couple games strong in the second set,” Ritchie said.
And she did just that.
Ritchie won the second set with authority, shutting out her opponent 6-0 and giving the Tigers a 4-3 win in the match.
In the match against Drake, Missouri started off strong, sweeping all three doubles matches to win the doubles point. After splitting the next five singles matches, the winner of the final match would win the match for their school. Ritchie walked into her match with the fate of her team resting on her shoulders and eventually came out on top .
But Starkey was less than satisfied with the close result.
“I don’t think we can be real proud of our effort tonight (Friday),” he said. “I don’t think we played our best match on any level.”