The Missouri tennis team hopes confidence away from the court leads to confidence on the court.
Tigers’ senior Katka Svecikova and sophomore Erika Josbena won titles in their flights at the Missouri Invitational Sunday. The finals concluded a three-day preseason tune-up for the Tigers. Illinois State, Murray State and Drake played in the event.
Svecikova defeated Illinois State sophomore Katri Miller 6-3, 4-6, (10-8) in the A-Flight final.
In the tiebreaker, Svecikova came back from a 7-2 deficit, pushing through back pain to win.
“I was just thinking it was the last match and to give it my all that I had,” Svecikova said. “So if I just stay in a couple more points then I would be fine.”
In the second set, Svecikova was a little slower and less responsive than she was earlier in the match. She limped slightly after charging the net on a Miller drop shot. The usually smiling Svecikova was grimacing slightly as the match wore on.
“I had some back problems in the beginning of the tournament,” Svecikova said. “So it was just getting worse and worse.”
In the B-Flight final, Josbena beat the Redbirds’ Emilie Sechaud 6-3, 6-1.
MU coach Blake Starkey said Josbena has improved since last year. Starkey said she showed poise and maturity that she didn’t have before.
Instead of trying to force the ball past Sechaud, Josbena patiently stayed in the volley waiting for the Illinois State junior to make an error.
Starkey said much of Josbena’s improvement correlated with her comfort at MU. Starkey said Josbena, a Wallingford, Penn. native was homesick for most of last season and it sometimes showed while playing.
Josbena said she felt calmer and more confident Sunday.
“I just feel more at home, I guess.” Josbena said. “I’m not as nervous. I’m not as intimidated, maybe. I’m going out there, playing my game and its working.”
Starkey said he was also happy with Josbena’s work ethic during the summer.
“(Josbena) really put it on her shoulders to make herself better,” Starkey said. “And I think she’s in the process of doing that.”
Svecikova and freshman Lubica Nadasska lost in the doubles final to the Redbirds’ Miller and Veronique Parke-Bedard 8-4.
Starkey said he felt the doubles match could have been played smarter. He also said that Nadasska has to adjust to the pace of collegiate tennis.
“All the new kids struggle whether they’re from the U.S. or elsewhere,” Starkey said.