Mizzou tennis newcomers show promise at Mizzou Invitational

Nash, Raley and Ismail each earned their first singles wins of the season on Thursday.
Maneater File Photo

Missouri tennis has a glimmer of hope after a successful performance during the first day of the Mizzou Invitational Thursday. After a dismal performance in their opening tournament last weekend at the UGA Invitational, the Tigers rebounded nicely with several wins on the day.

Missouri welcomed Memphis, Kansas State and Wichita State to Columbia for the round-robin tournament that sees each team play a single set of doubles matches and a single set of singles matches, rotating through all the possible matchup combinations until Saturday’s conclusion. The tournament’s return to Columbia made Thursday a historic day as well, as the invitational was at Mizzou for the first time since 2008.

The Tigers got off to a slow start for on the day as they dropped a pair of doubles matches against Wichita State and Memphis.

Taking on the Shocker’s doubles pairing of Marta Belluco and Ting-Ya Hsu, sophomore transfer Serena Nash and freshman Ellie Wright kept their match tight before falling 6-4.

Sophomore Mackenzy Middlebrooks and senior Clare Raley struggled to find their way from the start as the were defeated 6-2 by Memphis’s doubles pairing of Claire Sullivan and Josephine Cao.

Missouri’s No. 32-ranked pairing of senior Amina Ismail and freshman Marta Oliveira was not in action.

The Tiger’s quickly regrouped and strung together a series of wins in the singles matchup against Memphis.

Raley got things started for Missouri, easing to a straight-set victory, 6-3, 6-1.

Nash kept things rolling, following Raley’s lead to record her first win in a Tigers uniform, 6-2, 6-4.

Wright battled through her first set and cruised through her second as she prevailed in straight sets, 7-6, 6-2. Wright faced a familiar opponent for Mizzou in former Tiger Claire Sullivan, who was one of five departures from the roster during the offseason.

Ismail sent Missouri off the courts for the day on a high note. The Tigers’ wins leader from a year ago earned her first of the year, outlasting Katherine Cao in a three-set marathon match, 6-2, 3-6, 10-7.

Head coach Colt Gaston praised his team following its opening-day performance.

"I was very proud of the way they turned it around,” Gaston said in a press release. “They had the mentality of making sure they're starting better. They definitely performed better during the singles.”

Missouri returns to the court Friday morning for a doubles session beginning at 10 a.m. The Tigers will take on Wichita State in singles immediately following the completion of doubles play.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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