It was not the result that concerned Missouri coach Blake Starkey, it was the team’s demeanor.
The Tigers defeated Southwest Missouri State 5-2 on Sunday at Green Tennis Center, but sluggish singles play left Starkey searching for answers.
“We’re not at full speed right now,” Starkey said. “I’ve heard comments from four of them that, ‘Oh, I’m so tired.’ But there’s no reason for it.”
Missouri freshman Erika Josbena appeared drained at times but rallied to edge Bilijana Gakovic 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) at No. 6 singles. Trailing 6-5 in the second set, Josbena forced a tie-breaker by holding serve.
“I’m glad I pulled it out and kept fighting,” Josebena said. “I made a few too many unforced errors and that got me in trouble.”
Unforced errors also affected Tigers freshman Yelena Olshanskaya, who fought fatigue and frustration, losing 4-6, 7-5, 5-7 to Marta Rubina at No. 3 singles.
Olshanskaya forced a third set by overcoming a 5-3 second set deficit, which left Rubina in tears. Olshanskaya’s momentum faltered, though, when she committed numerous unforced errors, blowing several set-point opportunities and a 5-3 lead.
Junior Mary Barry overcame back spasms after her doubles match to play the Bears’ Elizabeth Garza, but lost 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 at No. 5 singles. Barry trailed 4-1 in the final set.
“This is a scrappy team and they fought hard,” Starkey said. “(Olshanskaya) put herself in a position to win but you don’t always win.”
The Tigers opened the match by sweeping doubles.
Senior Urska Juric and junior Katka Sevcikova, whom are ranked 30th in the nation in doubles, won 8-0 against Maria Amato and Rubina. Junior Lucie Ruskova and Kraftova netted a 8-4 win at No. 2 doubles, and Barry and Josbena added a 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles.
“We played really good,” Juric said. “When you serve good and don’t make a lot of mistakes, it comes easy.”
Juric beat Maja Stanojevic 6-2, 6-2 in the No. 1 singles match and Sevcikova topped Amato 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2 singles. Juric fell behind 2-0 in the first set but won the next eight games.
“I was telling myself to relax, stay positive and don’t be nervous because I was nervous at the beginning,” Juric said. “I served well and that was the key.”
Missouri junior Hana Kraftova won 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 at No. 3 singles against Laura Alvarez.
“Nothing really impressed me today,” Starkley said. “We haven’t played very well and I think we’re very tired. We’re in shape but I don’t think we got enough sleep last night, and that’s something we need to talk about.”