MU tennis struggles in SEC matches

Missouri drops its first two dual matches to No. 5 Florida and South Carolina.

The Missouri tennis team (4-8, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) went 1-2 in three road dual matches Friday and Sunday.

Losses against No. 5 Florida and South Carolina put the team at 4-8 on the spring season.

Missouri fell to South Carolina, 6-1, on Friday. In doubles play, senior Cierra Gaytan-Leach lost 8-3 in just over an hour.

Two minutes later, South Carolina clinched the doubles point with an 8-3 victory at No. 3 over freshmen Tracy Dong and Cassidy Spearman.

The Tigers could not generate much momentum at the beginning of singles play. At No. 1, Gaytan-Leach dropped the first set, 6-3. Sophomore Madison Rhyner failed to win any of the first five games in the No. 4 match. At No. 4, sophomore Kelli Hine lost her first set, 6-4.

Senior Rachel Stuhlmann was the only Tiger to win a first set, 6-3.

The Gamecocks significantly stepped up their game and made things much more difficult for the Tigers.

Back at No. 1, Gaytan-Leach forced a deciding set, but she would go on to lose the match 6-3, 5-7, 7-5. Rhyner fell 6-3, 6-1. Junior Alex Clark lost 6-2, 6-2. Spearman finished the night for the Tigers in losing favor 6-2, 6-1.

On Sunday, No. 5 Florida swept Missouri. In doubles play, the Gators dominated, winning 8-1. Florida earned the doubles point with an 8-2 win at No. 2.

The Tigers could not reverse their luck in singles play. At No. 2 singles, Hine won just one game in her loss. Stuhlmann put up two games in a losing effort 6-1, 6-1. Florida earned its 10th win of the spring season after beating Dong 6-1, 6-0 at No. 6.

Florida’s Olivia Janowicz, ranked 6th in the nation in singles, cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory at No. 1 against Gaytan-Leach. Spearman and Rhyner won a combined five games in their losses.

After a two-month road trip, the Tigers return home for three home matches this weekend. Missouri opens play Friday night against No. 8 Vanderbilt and continues action Sunday against Kentucky and Bradley.

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