By Brandon Tripp, Sports Writer
After a successful fall season that sent singles player Irene Squillaci and the doubles team of Juan Nunez and Ryan Hudson to the ITA Small College National Championship Tournament, the Wildcats began the spring season with a couple of wins over the weekend.
The Wildcats swept the weekend on the women’s side, while the men split their first two matches.
The women’s team also competed on Monday, splitting a pair of matches between Southeastern Oklahoma State and SMU, improving to 3-1 on the season.
On Sunday, the No. 7 women won both their matches, beating the Southland Conference preseason favorite Sam Houston State 4-3 in a nail-biter and Lee College, the second-ranked junior college in the nation, 7-2. The No. 19 men’s team split its matches against two Division I opponents, opening the season with a win against Northern Arizona 5-2 before falling to New Mexico State 7-0 in the second match.
Against Sam Houston State, it came down to the No. 4 singles match between Wildcat Sara Drummond and the Bearkats’ Eleonora Kuruc. Kuruc took the first set from Drummond 6-4, but Drummond would even the score by taking the second set 6-2. In the third set, Drummond went down 5-4 before fighting off match point to even the set at 5-5. Drummond would then take the final two games of the set to win it 7-5 and give ACU a 4-3 lead to take home the win.
“It was really exciting [to win],” Drummond said. “I didn’t know until after that it had come down to my match.”
The women won the No. 2 (Jaclyn Walker), No. 4 (Drummond) and No. 6 (Natalie Friend) singles matches, while also taking the first-ranked doubles match 9-8 and the third-ranked doubles match 8-4.
The men took on Northern Arizona in their first match of the season, winning two of three doubles matches to take the point and go up 1-0. Juan Nunez won his season-opening match 6-3, 5-4 over David Flodberg in the No. 1 singles match.
Eldad Campbell, Luke Hawk and Quenton Peterson-Paul each won the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6 singles matches respectively to give the Wildcats the 5-2 victory.
The Wildcats did not fair as well in the second match of the day, falling to New Mexico State 7-0. ACU managed to win just one set in the nine matches that it played.
Juan Nunez, who started his season off with an impressive win, fell to the Aggies’ Roman Stoisavljevic in straight sets 6-2, 6-3. Ryan Hudson lost by the same score to NMSU’s Jim Brouleau in the No. 2 singles match.
“They were definitely a good team; we were really close at every position,” Nunez said.
On Monday, the women’s team defeated Southeastern Oklahoma State 9-0 before losing to SMU 4-2. Against SMU, Walker won the No. 2 singles match, but it wasn’t enough as ACU lost the Nos. 1, 4 and 5 singles matches as well as all three doubles matches. Against Southeastern Oklahoma State, the Wildcats did not lose a set and won three of the six singles matches 6-0, 6-0 to improve to 3-0 before falling to SMU.
ACU will be back in action this weekend at the ACU Indoor Open. The women will take on Division I opponent Prairie View A&M University and two Division III schools: Hardin-Simmons University and McMurry University. The Prairie View A&M Lady Panthers head into this weekend’s open 0-1, losing their first match of the season to Texas State University 9-0. Both HSU and McMurry have yet to play a match this season. The last time HSU played a match against ACU, the Wildcats swept them 5-0 during the 2007 spring season.
The men will be back in match play this weekend at the ACU Indoor Open too. The Wildcats will face Trinity University, Prairie View A&M University and Howard Payne University. Trinity will be playing its first match of the season this weekend. The Tigers are ranked No. 12 in Division III. The Prairie View A&M Panthers will enter the weekend 0-2 after falling to the University of Texas-San Antonio and the University of Memphis to begin the season. Howard Payne, unranked in Division III, also will begin its season this weekend.
“If you don’t come out ready to play, you can always get beat,” Nunez said. “We need to play them like they are No. 1.”