The first two home matches in Southland Conference play did not go as planned for the women’s tennis team. The Wildcats lost consecutive 4-3 decisions to Northwestern State University and Stephen F. Austin University on Friday and Saturday.
The Wildcats are now 11-4, with a 3-2 record in Southland action.
Friday’s matchup between NSU and ACU featured the Southland’s top two teams, both undefeated in conference play entering the contest and riding lengthy winning streaks. NSU had won nine straight while ACU boasted a seven-game winning streak of its own.
The Wildcats surrendered the first point by losing two of the three doubles matches, something they had not done in their previous seven contests. Micah and Kaysie Hermsdorf had their own 12-match doubles winning streak ending in an 8-4 decision to the Lady Demons’ top pairing of Polina Konop and Tatiana Larina. The Wildcats’ second pairing of freshman Erin Walker and junior Brittney Reed also dropped their match in an identical 8-4 score. Sophomore Nada Marjanovic and senior Emily Conrad were the only Wildcats tandem to score a victory, defeating NSU’s No. 3 doubles team 8-7 in a tiebreaker.
The Wildcats fought back in the six singles matches but could only manage a 3-3 split. Walker, Conrad and Micah Hermsdorf were victorious, each with a straight-set win.
“There did not seem to be that same amount of fire in doubles like there is normally,” head coach Hutton Jones said. “We also missed a great opportunity to win four singles matches and that’s something we have to get used to doing.”
Saturday’s contest against the SFA Ladyjacks began on a positive note, with the Wildcats winning two of three doubles matches and collecting the opening point.
The Hermsdorf sisters bounced back from Friday’s loss with an 8-5 defeat of SFA’s top pairing, while Conrad and Marjanovic breezed through their 8-1 win.
Conrad and Marjanovic have won five consecutive doubles matches.
“Nada is a great doubles partner and we really balance each other out with her strong ground strokes and my aggressive net play. Building off of that, we simply have a lot of fun out there together, which really makes a difference,” said Conrad.
Despite the early lead, the ACU women were unable to fend off the Ladyjacks in singles play, losing four of six matches. Micah Hermsdorf won for ACU at the no. 1 position, recording a three-set victory (6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 6-2), and Marjanovic was victorious at the no. 5 position (6-4, 6-3). Hermsdorf improved to 12-3 (4-1 Southland) on the season, while Marjanovic won her team-leading 14th match of the season and now holds a 14-3 record (4-1 Southland).
“We lost to two teams that were highly successful in the Southland Conference last year. Seeing that we were so close to beating them shows we have a lot going for us right now. We are feeling very optimistic about the remainder of our season. All we can do moving forward is to continue bringing our best competitive effort and matches will end up in our favor next time,” said Conrad.
The Wildcats have a weekend off before hosting Nicholls State University and McNeese State University in a doubleheader on Saturday, April 5.