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Missouri tennis player Rachel Stuhlmann back on the courts where she grew up

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | 9:40 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Missouri tennis player Rachel Stuhlmann had the best match of her college career on Sunday.

The Tigers defeated Tennessee 4-3 to earn their second Southeastern Conference victory of the season. Stuhlmann, a junior, won her doubles match with senior teammate Maria Christensen 8-6 over Tennessee’s Joanna Henderson and Caitlyn Williams. 

Weekend matches

No. 7 Alabama (16-2, 8-1 SEC) at Missouri (9-8, 2-7)
When:
noon, Friday
Where:
Dwight Davis Tennis Center in St. Louis

No. 23 Auburn (15-5, 5-4 SEC) at Missouri
When:
Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
Where: 
Dwight Davis Tennis Center in St. Louis

*MU will offer a free round-trip bus to St. Louis for Sunday's match against Auburn. The bus will leave Mizzou Arena at 8 a.m. and will return to Columbia at about 4:30 p.m. Complimentary lunch, snacks and beverages will be provided. To reserve a spot on the bus, contact Lorraine Rodriguez at tsfevents@missouri.edu. 



Trailing 3-1, the Tigers picked up three straight singles victories from Christensen, freshman Madison Rhyner and sophomore Elisha Gabb to complete the comeback.

“It was the best win (of the season) for my team, beating the No. 23 team in the nation, so that was an amazing feeling,” Stuhlmann said. “I remember getting chills, and everyone ran onto the court when we clinched the match.”

To add satisfaction to Stuhlmann’s “amazing feeling," the match was played in her hometown of St. Louis in front of familiar faces.

Because of snow in Columbia, the Tigers had to relocate their past four home matches of the season to the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in St. Louis. The Tigers lost to Georgia two days before the Tennessee match. They have two more home games in St. Louis on Friday and Sunday.

According to Missouri head coach Sasha Schmid, there were major safety concerns at the program’s outdoor courts in Columbia. The facility will be upgraded for next season, and the newly surfaced courts will be played on through the 2014 SEC tournament that Missouri is hosting. The Tigers will practice at Cosmo-Bethel Park for the rest of the season. 

Stuhlmann grew up in the St. Louis area and attended Kirkwood High School in the St. Louis suburbs. Her parents, siblings, grandmother, aunts, uncles, friends and an old coach were all in attendance Sunday.

“I love it knowing they are supporting me,” Stuhlmann said. “It’s the best feeling, and I am blessed to have an amazing family."

When Stuhlmann first heard the news about moving Missouri's home matches she said she had mixed emotions.

“It’s disappointing not to be playing here in Columbia and represent the school,” Stuhlmann said. “In another way, it is really exciting to play in St. Louis, my hometown, and it’s fun to represent Mizzou in St. Louis.”

The Dwight Davis Tennis Center is located in Forest Park, which, in Stuhlmann’s opinion, is the best part of the city. She has trained and participated in tournaments at Dwight Davis and knows the court well.

“Those courts are extremely slow, probably the slowest courts we have played on, so that was quite an adjustment for us,” Stuhlmann said.

The Tigers opted to stay in a hotel between the matches on Friday and Sunday instead of traveling back and forth from Columbia.

This allowed Stuhlmann to take her teammates to her favorite restaurants in the city. They went to eat in an Italian-American neighborhood called the Hill, and Fitz’s to try toasted ravioli.

Stuhlmann said she was proud to show her teammates, including two from England and one from Denmark, the area where she grew up.

“I want to get a few more wins in St. Louis, in my city,” Stuhlmann said.

Missouri will be back in St. Louis this weekend for a match against No. 7 Alabama at noon Friday. The Tigers meet No. 23 Auburn at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.


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