The Missouri Western tennis team was able to bounce back against the Emporia State Hornets to earn their ninth win of the season and their first win in the MIAA Conference.
Western (9-6) bested the Hornets (1-4) by a score of 5-4. The bout took place at Emporia, Kansas, on March 16. The Griffons had lost their previous two matches to Washburn University on March 10 and against Northwest on March 13.
Freshman Bojana Vuksan injured her knee while playing down in Orlando, Florida, and is now likely out for the season. Vuksan says that, despite her injury, she’ll still be there for her team for the rest of the season.
“I didn’t expect anything like this to happen to me,” Vuksan said. “I felt good going into the season. It definitely sucks just being on the sidelines and watching the sport you love and not being able to participate. However, I still show up to every practice, all the weight and conditioning sessions and travel for matches because I’m still here to support my team. Whether the result turns out to be a win or loss, then we still won or lost together. I go to everything I can as if I’m still playing because I want my teammates to know I’m there to support them and I want them to succeed. In the end, we either succeed together, or we fail together. But we do it as a team.”
Coach Shawn Becker put it very bluntly when speaking about her injury.
“Obviously, losing Bojana — everybody knows that a huge loss for us,” Becker said.
As for their 7-2 defeat against Northwest, Becker feels that he can count on his team when needed.
“We were competitive in the spots we needed to be competitive,” Becker said. “We’re depending on the top of our lineup to bring it all the time.”
While his team picked up the win against Emporia to end its two-game skid, Becker points out that the Hornets only had five players.
“We know Emporia are going through some hard times this year in terms of their roster,” Becker said. “We were starting strong, but then it was uncharacteristic. We had double-faults, poor shots and it was not good. That was frustrating and a little demoralizing.”
Western would go up 3-0 automatically due to Emporia’s lack of players but only won two actual matches. The first victory would come in number one singles with sophomore Karolina Strom winning 6-0, 6-2. Senior Sofia Aguilera would win at the number four singles by the scores of 6-1 and 6-3.
Aguilera is pumped that her team picked up its first conference win of the season.
“We all trained hard and really wanted a conference win under our belts to start off strong,” Aguilera said. “We lagged a bit in the beginning, but we dug deep, stayed motivated and kept pushing for that win.”
Western’s match against William Jewell College on March 17 was canceled due to weather. The Griffons play again this Sunday versus Fort Hays State at 10 a.m.