Missouri tennis team beats SLU

Missouri began its home stand with a 6-1 victory.
Junior Kaitlyn Ritchie prepares to answer a serve during a doubles match against St. Louis University on Tuesday at the Green Tennis Center. The Tigers won the match, leaving them with a 3-3 record for the season.

The Missouri tennis team started its three-match home stand with a bang via a 6-1 victory over Saint Louis University on Tuesday at the Green Tennis Center.

Beginning the evening in doubles play, things got a little bit treacherous for Missouri. After freshman Andrea Lewis and senior Kristen Bleakley closed out a decisive victory in the No. 3 spot, Missouri saw the next two doubles matches go to tiebreakers. First, at No. 1 doubles, SLU juniors Hailee Elmore and Casey Miller won by a score of 9-8 (2) to keep the Billikens in contention for the doubles point.

The Tigers' hopes for the doubles point fell on the shoulders of sophomore Jamie Mera and freshman Maria Christensen in the No. 2 position. The duo allowed a 7-2 lead to slip away before pulling out the victory in a dramatic tiebreaker.

Although happy to get the win in doubles play, Christensen acknowledged it didn't go according to plan.

"We fell asleep at 7-2," Christensen said. "But it still felt great to get the win."

Christensen, who hails from Hellerup, Denmark, has seen her role on the team continue to increase. After winning her last three singles matches, coach Blake Starkey promoted Christensen to the No. 4 singles spot and the No. 2 doubles spot.

"It's such a rush when you're told that you're going to be bumped up in the lineup," Christensen said. "My goal is to eventually play at No. 1."

Christensen was one of five Tigers to win a singles match in straight sets Tuesday.

At No. 3 singles, junior Mallory Weber defeated junior Sarah Septien 6-0, 6-3 to get things started. Just moments after the close of the No. 2 match, junior Kaitlyn Ritchie finished off Miller by a score of 6-1, 6-1. Soon after, Lewis grabbed a 6-0, 6-2 victory at No. 5 and junior Maureen Modesto was victorious 6-2, 6-0 in the No. 6 match.

As Missouri had already clinched the overall victory, the most exhilarating showdown of the evening was just reaching its climax. The No. 1 singles match between Mera and Elmore was in a third set tiebreaker. With all the other matches completed, both teams' eyes were glued as the two duked it out in a battle for nothing but pride.

"This is really great tennis right here," Starkey said.

When it was all said and done, Elmore took the tiebreaker and the match for SLU by a score of 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3). The win was Elmore's seventh straight and marked SLU's only point of the evening.

With two matches this weekend, the Tigers have little time to soak in Tuesday's victory before getting back to work. Missouri will take on Louisville on Friday and No. 22-ranked Southern Methodist University on Sunday.

Starkey said this weekend is an opportunity for his team to prove itself against two quality opponents.

"The match against Louisville is going to be an absolute war," Starkey said. "As for SMU, we're going to need to be very sharp to compete."

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