COLUMBIA – After a wintery March, the Stephens College tennis team finally competed in its first home match of the year Wednesday.
The Stars, who have already had six matches canceled or postponed this season because of the weather, lost 6-3 in a dual meet Wednesday against Missouri Valley College. Despite the loss, the Stars (0-6) were greeted to a modest home crowd at their on-campus tennis facility.
"Those are my friends watching," Dina Kaissi of Stephens said. "They're loud, which is good for tennis."
Kaissi had a big day for the Stars, winning her singles match 6-0, 6-0 against Ana Daniela Cheda. The Stars' top-ranked player and former Hickman High School standout, Kaissi dominated the match from the beginning, her powerful serve too much for Cheda to handle. Kaissi also teamed up with Chelsea Cross at No. 1 doubles for an 8-4 victory over Cheda and Virginia Hutcherson.
"I felt good today," Kaissi said. "I've been playing for a really long time, so I have a lot of confidence in my game."
While her victories came easily, Kaissi admitted she might not be in the same midseason form that the rest of her teammates are. The junior has missed practice time and two matches while studying for medical school entrance exams. Still, Kaissi contributed to two of Stephens' three match victories in the late home debut.
"We get short-changed on home matches all the time," Stephens coach Lexie Payne said.
Payne added that it is not especially unusual for her team to play at Stephens so late because they usually play more away than home matches. Because of this, each home match is special to the Stars.
"I love home matches, so I 'm kind of sad that we only have a couple," Kaissi said.
Payne also said poor weather in March and February has led to a lack of practice time, with her team actually playing more than it has practiced.
Missouri Valley coach Ryan Carney said his team is experiencing the same problem, though the Vikings (3-7) just returned from playing a tournament in sunny Hilton Head, S.C.
"It's been a harsh spring," Carney said. "These teams never had weather so bad so late. "
Stephens next plays Saturday when the team takes on Missouri Baptist in St. Louis. Missouri Valley travels Thursday to Overland Park, Kan. to play Johnson County Community College.