Mizzou tennis concludes regular season with upset victory over Alabama

Missouri finishes the season ranked 13th in the SEC.
Junior Clare Raley waits for the serve during a home doubles match.

Missouri women’s tennis wrapped its regular season schedule up with a trip to Alabama to battle its final two Southeastern Conference opponents.

On Friday, Mizzou visited No. 11 Auburn, where it fell 4-1 despite a strong performance in doubles competition. On Sunday, against the No. 33 Alabama Crimson Tide, the Tigers had just enough left in the tank to pull off an upset in stunning fashion, prevailing 4-3.

Coming into the Auburn match on a nine-match losing streak, Mizzou looked determined to reverse its fortunes. The nationally ranked pairing of senior Bea Machado Santos and junior Amina Ismail added another win against a ranked opponent to its increasingly impressive resume, upsetting the No. 16 ranked pairing in the nation 6-1.

Coach Colt Gaston continued to tinker with the lineup down the stretch. Senior Cassidy Spearman and freshman Mackenzy Middlebrooks would have no problem with the change: In their first pairing of the season, the duo clinched the doubles point for Mizzou 6-1 with room to spare.

In singles, Spearman’s late season struggles continued as she fell in straight sets 6-3, 7-5.

Freshman Tate Schroeder was defeated in a highly competitive match. Schroeder fell on the wrong side of two incredibly close sets, never quite able to gain control in a 7-6, 7-6 loss.

Sunday brought the final opportunity for the Tigers to snap their losing streak as they traveled to Alabama.

After finding early success Friday, the doubles lineup remained the same Sunday. Junior Clare Raley and Schroeder earned their first victory of the weekend in a 6-3 win to get the Tigers on the board.

Spearman and Middlebrooks continued to thrive in their new partnership as they claimed the doubles point for Mizzou with a 6-3 victory.

After Alabama tied the match up at 1-1, Santos completed what might have been her most impressive victory this season. The senior concluded her final regular season match with a striking display, blanking her opponent in the first set 6-0. She continued to shine in the second set, winning 7-6 against the nation's No. 15 ranked player.

Alabama proceeded to pull out a pair of third-set matches to take a 3-2 lead.

In the third set of her match, Amina Ismail found herself 4-4 after splitting the first two sets. The junior showed tremendous resolve as she successfully fought to keep her team alive, claiming the victory 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

The win left Middlebrooks fighting in a winner-take-all match. The freshman was tied 4-4 in the third set as she dug deep to rekindle some of her early season magic. She delivered the Tigers the 4-3 victory, sending her three senior teammates off with an upset win.

"The girls earned it,” Gaston said after the match. “These girls, particularly the freshmen, have been through a lot, losing some close battles. That was the biggest thing that I was proud of today.”

Missouri will now shift its focus to the SEC Tournament as they face Ole Miss at 1 p.m. Wednesday, looking to use this victory to propel a successful tournament run.

Mizzou finished with a spring season record of 11-12, including a conference record of 2-10.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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