Grant Green – 23 Sports

Mizzou tennis’ first SEC opponent also happened to be their first match against a top 25 opponent. Last Saturday, the Mississippi State Bulldogs came into Columbia ranked 25th in the nation, undefeated to that point.

Mississippi State started strong, winning second and third in doubles. Emma Antonaki and Alexandra Mikhailuk won second doubles 6-0 against Mizzou senior Ellie Wright and sophomore Elys Ventura. Then Mississippi State won third doubles with Chloe Cirotte and Lilian Poling beating Mizzou’s Gabrielle Goldin and Serena Nash 6-2 for the doubles point. 1-0 Bulldogs. The remaining six points were left for singles play.

Singles play is where Mizzou pulled strong as junior Bronte Murgett gave Mizzou the first singles point beating Tamara Racine 6-3, 7-6, evening the scoreboard 1-1. Next up was senior Marta Oliveira. She beat her opponent Alexandra Mikhailuk 6-3, 6-4, giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

Mississippi State, however, evened up the score again with Antonaki beat Mizzou’s Wright 6-4, 7-6 (7-2 in the tiebreaker). After that it was the Bulldogs’ lead again, as Magda Adaloglou pulled off an impressive comeback, Mizzou Freshman Valentina Vazquez won the first set big, 6-1 but then pulled off two straight 6-2 sets, and it was a 3-2 SEC match.

Out came the five and six lineups for their singles matches, Elys Ventura and Nash representing Mizzou. Both fell behind early, Ventura went down 4-2, Nash 1-0 in the first sets. Then, both would come back to tie those sets, Ventura 4-4 and Nash 2-2. Ventura went back and forth with her opponent Lilian Poling, the set tied at 6-6. She would finish the first set on top, winning 7-6 (7-3) in the tiebreaker.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, Nash dropped the first set 2-6, but she bounced back strong, taking a 4-2 lead in the 2nd set. While the opposite happened for Ventura, she fell behind 1-4 in the 2nd set. They would lose the 2nd set 3-6. Nash claimed the 2nd set shortly after, 6-3, and now, both the number five and number six singles matchups were heading to a third set.

EVentura bounced back and took the third set 6-3, which set up an ongoing tiebreaker for the SEC match. And after breaking Cirotte’s serve, Nash claimed number six singles, and Mizzou topped Mississippi State 4-3 for their first SEC matchup.

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