USD tennis started its preseason with two singles wins, and a second and fifth place in doubles at the Drake Invitational last weekend.
Sophomore Habiba Aly and junior Nanette Nylund each won their singles competitions in the tournament.
Aly secured her first two wins posting a (7-5, 6-0,) and (6-3, 7-6 (4)) set matches against Augustana’s Anca Rusu and Omaha’s Marie Kapelevich. Her third match against Drake’s Kenya Williams ended after the latter sustained a knee injury. Aly won her final match with a score of 6-1, 6-3 against Creighton’s Erin Epperson.
Nylund defended Flight C singles, as she battled back from each first set in the semi-final and final matches. The sophomore posted wins of 6-3, 6-4 over Northern Iowa’s Vale Caro and a 6-2, 6-2 win over Augustana’s Annika Teske in first two matches.
Nylund made a rebound in the semi-finals, taking the next two sets 6-1, 6-4 after dropping the first set by 2-6 to Creighton’s Meredith Benson. She posted a 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Northern Iowa’s Daisy Philips in the final.
Freshman Natka Kmošková posted a 1-2 mark and sophomore Jana Lazarevic finished 1-1 in Flight A singles play. Freshman Laura Janícková and senior Luana Stanciu each finished 1-1 in Flight B and C singles respectively. Nylund and Aly combined for a 1-1 mark in Flight A doubles. The Coyote doubles tandems of Luana Stanciu and Laura Janícková along with Jana Lazarevic and Natka Kmošková each posted 3-1, 1-3 marks in the Invite, according to GoYotes.
Stanciu and Janícková finished second place, winning their first three matches before falling in the finals to Omaha’s Behling and Kapelevich, 8-4. Simultaneously, Lazarevic and Kmošková dropped their first match before winning three in a row to claim fifth place in Flight A against Proudfoot and Caro of Northern Iowa, 8-6.
Aly was pleased with her performance in the tournament.
“First of all, I feel so good and excited about my performance,” Aly said. “Last year really was not my best tournament. This year, I made a better memory of the place and actually won. I played against a player from the tournament’s host and I beat her for my third time.”
Though the tennis team’s regular season is in the spring, during the fall, Aly said the team tweaks their skills and game techniques during the fall.
“When you meet someone in the fall that you are going to meet again in the Spring in your conference, the (fall season) kind of guarantees having a better chance in winning,” said Aly. “For a team, we did a great job.”
Head coach Brett Barnett was proud of the team’s performance over the weekend.
“We ended up being dominant in singles. Habiba and Nanette both won their flights. There were three total singles flights. We won the B and C flight and played really well in the other one,” Barnett said. “Doubles-wise, it has been a big emphasis for us in practice. We played fairly well in doubles. Jana and Natka won the consolation side of the Flight A doubles bracket, and Launa and Laura made the finals and won 3-1 in Flight B doubles. All in all, our first weekend was very strong. Our final record was 19 (6).”
Barnett still wants the team to improve in certain areas before their next match.
“It’s a short week, we have two days to prepare,” Barnett said. “We’re going to play a lot of doubles this week in practice to make sure we try to strengthen that and for singles, we’re going to continue working on patterns, trying to be a little more offensive and making sure shot selection is good.”
Barnett said the team will face challenging opponents at their next tournament at the University of Minnesota Sept. 20-23.
“It is a great opportunity for us, the competition is going to be a little bit stronger but we are ready for the girls to show how good we are,” Barnett said.