Women’s tennis shows signs of improvement but falls to No. 24 South Carolina, No. 1 Florida

Doubles pairing Santos and Ismail won a third straight match over ranked opponents.
Maneater File Photo

Missouri women’s tennis entered the weekend looking to snap its three-match losing skid against two proven Southeastern Conference opponents, No. 24 South Carolina and No. 1 Florida.

Despite several bright moments, the Tigers dropped both matches, falling narrowly to South Carolina 4-2 and losing 4-0 to a championship-contending Florida team.

On Friday, Mizzou had plenty of chances to knock off the Gamecocks. Senior captain Bea Machado Santos and junior Amina Ismail came into the match ranked as the No. 64 pairing in the nation and were able to pull out an upset victory against the No. 44 pairing 6-3 to earn the Tigers the doubles point.

Freshman Tate Schroeder and senior Cassidy Spearman closed out doubles competition with a 6-3 victory. The win marks Mizzou’s 11th doubles victory through 17 matches this spring.

In singles, the Tigers sputtered, dropping three straight matches and giving the Gamecocks a 3-1 lead. Schroeder picked up a 7-5, 6-1 victory, placing the Tigers right back in the match, but the team still trailed 3-2.

Ismail battled to a third set in her match after a lopsided set gave her and her opponent a set each. The third set remained tight. After falling behind 4-2, Ismail fought back to close the gap but was unable to get ahead of her competitor, falling 6-4.

Junior Clare Raley was in the midst of a back and forth battle with her opponent when Ismail’s defeat ultimately ended the match. Raley was tied 4-4 in the third set.

On Sunday, Missouri faced its toughest opponent of the year. The No. 1 Florida Gators made the trip north to Columbia, bringing with them a loaded roster featuring six players in the ITA’s national singles rankings.

Doubles competition proved just how much the Tigers have improved this season as they held 4-3 leads in the No. 1 and No. 2 matches.

Santos and Ismail, facing the nation's No. 9-ranked doubles pairing, snatched a 6-3 victory.

Schroeder and Spearman blew their early lead and were defeated 6-4, giving the Gators the 1-0 lead.

In singles, Florida was relentless, putting on a full display of dazzling tennis. The Gators swept three straight matches in short order to notch the match victory.

Even Schroeder was unable to break the Gators’ dominance. She was handily defeated 6-2, 6-2 in her least competitive match of the season.

Despite the two defeats, Missouri coach Colt Gaston liked some of what he saw. After dropping the first match of the weekend against South Carolina, he talked about a promising trend that sticks out to him.

“I'm starting to feel more belief. Whether we lose a few and get down, we can fight back and put ourselves in that situation,” Gaston said. “I want us to be known as a team that's going to fight you to the finish. That's what we are trying to do this year."

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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