Oklahoma hands Tigers tough loss

Sunday, March 7, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:44 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

After Saturday’s match against Oklahoma, Missouri tennis coach Blake Starkey said he knows why some coaches develop ulcers and lose their hair.

The Tigers lost 5-2 to the Sooners at Green Tennis Center in a Big 12 Conference match, but Oklahoma won two singles matches in third-set tiebreaks that could have swung the match to Missouri.

This was the fourth time Missouri (7-4, 1-4) has lost to Oklahoma in five years.

“I’ll be replaying this in my head for a week,” Starkey said.

This loss came a day after Missouri beat Oklahoma State 6-1 for its first conference victory of the season. The Tigers face Iowa at 1 p.m. today at Green Tennis Center.

Missouri’s No. 1 player, Urska Juric, sat out the singles matches because of knee problems. Starkey said he did not know what the injury was or whether Juric would be available today.

Mary Barry and Lucie Ruskova were the only Tigers to win matches Saturday.

Barry beat Heather Saluri 7-5, 6-4 in the No. 4 match, and Ruskova beat Joi-lee Bechler 6-4, 6-4 in the No. 6 match. Ruskova was not scheduled to play, but Juric’s injury opened a spot for her. Missouri was swept in doubles play.

Missouri’s Hana Kraftova lost 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7) to Irina Lykina in the No. 2 singles match. Kraftova held a match point in the third set, but lost three consecutive points.

Kraftova said not much separated her from Lykina.

“It was just a couple of balls,” Kraftova said.

In the No. 5 singles match, Oklahoma’s Jessica Braver beat Erika Josbena 7-6 (3), 1-6, 1-0 (7).

If Missouri had won those two matches, it would have beaten Oklahoma 4-3.

“It’s right there,” Starkey said. “You can put your hand on it. Those are the hard ones.”

Katka Sevcikova moved up to No. 1 for the Tigers to replace Juric and lost 6-3, 6-2 to Anda Perianu.

Although Sevcikova was disappointed she lost, she said she enjoyed playing against a team’s top player.

“It’s a challenge,” Sevcikova said.

Missouri will face its third challenger of the weekend today when it plays Iowa.

Sevcikova said the team will not play much differently today.

“I think we just need to keep the same pace,” Sevcikova said.

Starkey said he would be happy to see a similar effort today.

“Considering that we had to pull Urska out, we played great,” Starkey said.

Although he was disappointed with the outcome, Starkey said Saturday’s match gave him reasons to be optimistic.

“We’re so close to getting over the hump,” Starkey said.

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