Missouri tennis falls to 0-3 in SEC after losing to South Carolina

The Tigers gained their third loss in a row after dropping 4-0 against No. 9 ranked South Carolina.

After an unsuccessful SEC road trip last weekend, Missouri (10-4, 0-3) was hoping for a chance to get back in the game against No. 9 South Carolina (8-2, 3-0), but fell short 4-0. This marks the Tigers’ third straight SEC loss this spring season.

It was a rough start to the afternoon for the Tigers after dropping the doubles point. The No. 3 doubles match consisting of MU freshman Lisa Fukutoku and sophomore Marta Oliveira finished first with the duo falling to South Carolina’s sophomores Megan Davies and Kennedy Wicker 6-1. Shortly after the defeat, No. 2 doubles Missouri sophomore Taylor Gruber and freshman Vivien Ábrahám dropped the match 6-2 to SC senior Paige Cline and junior Silvia Chinellato.

The pair composed of MU junior Mackenzy Middlebrooks and sophomore Ellie Wright were down 5-3 at No. 1 doubles to the SC duo of junior Mia Horvit and senior Ingrid Gamarra Martins, but the game was left unfinished.

“I think that after last week we really wanted to try and bounce back, so getting off to that good start was really important to us,” Middlebrooks said. “We talked about that going into it. Obviously South Carolina is a good team, but I think that we just need to do a better job executing on the big points and playing the big points better.”

Tensions were high in the four played singles matches with each player seemingly trying to one-up their opponent both physically and vocally. The Gamecocks took three straight wins during the singles matches; Mizzou’s Fukutoku finished her No. 3 singles match first, dropping to No. 99 ranked Horvit in two sets 1-6, 4-6. After being the only Tiger to win a match at Kentucky last weekend, Middlebrooks fell to No. 9 ranked Martins at No. 1 singles 1-6, 4-6. Finally, the match between MU junior Serena Nash and No. 49 ranked Cline at No. 2 singles was the last to finish, resulting in a two-set loss at 2-6 each for the Tigers.

An intense match at No. 4 singles between Wright and Davies with the Gamecocks up 7-6, 1-2 was left unfinished as USC clinched the win 4-0.

“It was a close one,” Wright said. “It came down to a few points in the first set but she’s a good player. I knew going in that I had to stick to my game plan but it was a good battle.”

After dropping their first three SEC games, the Tigers are looking to bounce back in an SEC match against Florida (5-5, 2-1) and a nonconference match against the University of Missouri, Kansas City (3-7) at home Sunday, March 11.

“The biggest thing is just having more pride in our doubles, how we play and being an aggressive team,” coach Colt Gaston said. “That’s got to happen at the start and I’m looking for that on Sunday.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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