After coming off of a week of rest, the UW-Milwaukee women’s tennis team continued league play over the weekend, claiming a straightforward 7-0 victory over Valparaiso, but fell 2-5 to the 17-time league champion UIC.
Heading to Indiana Friday evening, the Panthers started their matchup against Valparaiso strongly. In doubles action, the top dup of senior Christina Colarossi and sophomore Alysa Straub claimed a quick 6-1 victory, while the third team of freshman Mardee Merar and junior Dana Shannon won their match decisively, 6-2. Because the Panthers already claimed the doubles point to go up 1-0, the second flight match remained unfinished.
“I am really pleased with the way things went today. We had a lot of energy starting from the moment the match started and I think this gave the girls the momentum and drive they needed to win at every spot,” Milwaukee head coach Maddy Soule said.
Milwaukee continued their swift play as the match transitioned to singles. Merar was the first match to finish, earning a 6-0, 6-1 victory at the sixth flight, and the rest of the team followed suit. Senior Chelsea Bailey at the top spot finished soon after, without losing a game, 6-0, 6-0. Clinching the victory for the Panthers at the fifth flight was Colarossi with a convincing 6-2, 6-2 win. Sophomore Hayley Marshall won her second flight match with an impressive 6-1, 6-2 win; while at the fourth spot, Straub’s victory held a similar score line, 6-1, 6-1. Finishing out the day was sophomore Aerielle Pendleton in the closest match of the day. Pendleton earnest her first set in a tiebreak before pulling away, winning the tiebreak seven points to one, an ultimately winning the match 7-6(1), 6-1.
After claiming their first victory of UIC in program history, Milwaukee was looking to back up that performance in Chicago Saturday morning.
The Panthers started off favorably with doubles action, with Marshall and Bailey claiming a victory at the second spot with a 6-3 score, followed closely by Merar and Shannon at the third flight, claiming their matchup six games to one. With the two victories, the Panthers lead UIC 1-0.
However, when the singles matches began, fortune turned towards UIC. At the fifth flight, Colarossi managed to pull out her match. After dropping her first set 7-5, she claimed the second set 6-4, and then earned her victory winning 10-7 in the match tiebreaker.
That would be the last match the Panthers would win for the day. Bailey fell at the top spot 6-0, 6-1, while Straub finished with a similar score line with a 6-0, 6-3 defeat at the fourth spot. Marshall, at the second flight, couldn’t push her opponent, falling 6-2, 6-4. At the third spot, Pendleton started her match slowly, falling behind 6-2, but was able to crawl back into her second set. She ultimately lost the match 6-2, 7-5. Merar, at the bottom flight, started off competitively, but after dropping her first set 7-5, quickly ran out of gas, losing the second set 6-1.
“After a solid doubles point win, I felt really good going into singles with lots of confidence and energy coming from the doubles performance,” Soule said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find three singles wins, which was very disappointing because we let go of a huge opportunity to beat a solid team. I think the girls learned a lot from this match and we won’t let another opportunity go moving forward.”
After splitting the two conference matches, Milwaukee is now (5-13) overall and (3-2) in league play, currently sitting in fourth place. The Panthers will return home next weekend for another duo of league matches, facing Youngstown State (11-8) Saturday morning before challenging Cleveland State (5-12) Sunday afternoon.