Missouri tennis comes up just short, suffers loss to Arkansas in conference opener

The Tigers dropped the doubles point for just the third time this season.
Maneater File Photo

Missouri women's tennis failed to get off to its usual fast start in the team’s Southeastern Conference opener at No. 17 Arkansas on Friday. That came back to haunt them as they fell just short of a comeback, dropping the match 4-3.

The Razorbacks were sure to provide a tough test for the Tigers, and they lived up to their ranking early as they claimed the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles matches, clinching the doubles victory against a Mizzou team that has previously won seven straight doubles points.

Juniors Clare Raley and Brianna Lashway struggled in their match from the opening serve, quickly finding themselves behind 4-1 and eventually losing 6-2.

Seniors Bea Machado Santos and Cassidy Spearman lost a bit of their flare as well, as they were unable to defend their undefeated record, suffering a 6-4 loss. The duo’s win streak was snapped at seven, and they fell to 7-1 on the season.

In singles play, the Tigers were unable to find their footing and slipped into an early 3-0 hole.

Spearman was unable to rekindle her comeback magic from a week ago and took a brutal 6-0, 6-1 defeat.

Junior Amina Ismail, the team leader in singles victories dating back to the fall, offered little resistance in her match, as she lost in straight sets 6-1, 6-1.

The Tigers were facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit, but the scoreboard provided a glimmer of hope, as Mizzou held leads in three of the four remaining matches.

Freshman Tate Schroeder fought through her first set and cruised through the second, winning 7-6, 6-0 and putting the Tigers on the board.

Santos kept the momentum going, claiming an upset victory against No. 88 Mia Jurasic. The team captain controlled the match and won handily in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.

Freshman Mackenzy Middlebrooks pulled out a tough victory in the No. 6 position 6-4, 7-6. She improves her spring singles record to 5-1.

With the score knotted up at 3-3, it came down to Lashway in the final match, who faced No. 63 Shannon Hudson.

Lashway dropped the first set 7-6 but showed resolve and battled back to win the second set 6-4. In the third and final set, Hudson lived up to her national ranking, as she controlled the set winning 6-1 and delivered her team the match victory.

After the match, Missouri coach Colt Gaston recognized his team's struggles but remained optimistic.

"I felt like we didn't start out playing the way we wanted to in doubles, but man am I proud of this team for showing so much heart and fight to give ourselves an opportunity to win,” Gaston said. “We are never satisfied with a loss but grew a lot as a team tonight.”

Missouri will be back at home next week to continue conference play. The Tigers take on No. 20 Texas A&M at 5 p.m. Friday, March 10 and LSU at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 12.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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