Missouri’s first match on the outdoor tennis courts at Green Tennis Center was also the last home match for Lucie Ruskova and the Missouri seniors. Ruskova wasn’t about to let Big 12 Conference opponent Nebraska spoil either occasion.
In No. 6 singles, Ruskova rallied from a set down in the final match to defeat Nebraska’s Katie Garcia and give the Tigers a 4-3 win Saturday.
“When it’s your last match, you want to finish well,” Ruskova said, “I’m just glad I could clinch (the win) for the team.”
Ruskova, a junior who will graduate in the summer with a degree in marketing, defeated Garcia 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
“That’s about as brave a match as you’ll see,” Missouri coach Blake Starkey said. “Down a set and down a break, that’s pretty big.”
Until Saturday, the Tigers had played all their matches this season indoors at Green Tennis Center, which completed its outdoor courts last summer.
Ruskova’s match would not have had as much suspense if the Tigers had won two tight matches earlier in the day.
In the closest match of the day, Missouri’s Hana Kraftova pushed Leslie Harvey to tiebreakers in No. 3 singles before losing 0-6, 7-3, 7-6.
“I was really mad after that,” Kraftova said. “I fought with the wind, I fought my opponent, and I fought with my service.”
In No. 2 doubles, Mary Barry and Erica Josbena lost 8-6 to Nebraska’s Garcia and Gitte Ostermann. The Tigers dropped the doubles point 2-1. After three singles matches and the doubles point, Missouri (11-8, 4-5) trailed 3-1.
“We were in a situation where we had three singles matches (left) and we had to win every one of them and we did,” Starkey said.
In No. 1 singles, Urska Juric, a senior, responded to the pressure, outlasting Nebraska’s Ostermann in a three-hour match, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.
Juric showed her intensity by screaming in frustration after losing critical points and pumping her fist with the same fervor after hitting winners in important rallies.
The Tigers Yelena Olshanskaya won at No. 4 singles and Barry won at No. 5 singles in straight sets.
Harvey said the emotion in many of the day’s matches was a carryover from the Cornhuskers’ (11-6, 1-4) road win at Missouri two years ago.
“It all goes back to a six-hour dual match the last time we were here, (which) all came down to a couple of points in the No. 6 singles,” Harvey said.