Griffons give seniors victorious send off

Sunday, April 24 was senior day for the Griffons. In their final home match of the season, Lindsay Beger, Denise Chiao, Sarah Giraldo and Meara Smith were able to go out in a big way against Lindenwood. In singles matches, both squads were neck and neck. Western claimed a win in the No. 1 spot when Lindenwood's Anna Barbasheva left the match due to injury. Yasmine El Ghazi won the match 6-3, 5-0. Sofia Aguilera took the No. 3 spot 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Joanna Abreu Roman took the No. 4 spot 6-1, 6-0. Head coach Shawn Becker was more than happy with how his squared performed in singles matches. "Yas [Yasmine], she would've won that second set 6-0 if it wasn't for the injury default," Becker said. "Yas was nothing less than impressive...Joanna, 6-0, 6-1, that match literally took 20 minutes...Sofia, she grew up from a first set where she didn't know what she was doing, to a second set where she was so determined, to a third set where she got distracted by something off court for one point. That little distraction, it scared her enough that she just ran the ship the rest of the way." The Griffons sealed their senior day victory over the Lions in doubles matches. Aguilera and El Ghazi took the No. 1 spot in an intense match. They started out down 6-3, and came out to win 9-7. Abreu Roman and Giraldo claimed the No. 2 spot 8-3. Becker believes that doubles was really what made the difference in their game. "Doubles was huge," Becker said. "Sarah and Joanna...they played doubles, and they won. When we work together, when we set each other up, Yas and Sofia are a scary doubles team...They knocked it out of the park." The Griffons took home a 5-4 victory over the Lions on senior day. "That was totally different than any of our other 5-4 matches this year," Becker said. "It was a huge momentum swing...They [Lindenwood] played Northwest so tough on Saturday and I was a little nervous about coming in. I didn't know how hungry they'd be coming into the match. Becker was thankful for the support shown to his squad on senior day. "A huge shout out to the administration that was there from all over campus," Becker said. "We had the International Student office out there. We had Gold Coat members we'd never seen at tennis matches before. So, that was huge." Western has locked a spot in the MIAA Tournament. They will head to Springfield, Missouri on April 29-May 1.

Griffons have strong recovery over weekend

Western tennis made a quick recovery over the weekend after falling hard. The Griffons opened up the weekend on Friday, April 15 against the Bearcats of Southwest Baptist. In singles matches, Southwest Baptist cleaned up with a complete sweep. Yasmine El Ghazi fell 6-2, 6-2 in the No. 1 spot. At the No. 2 spot, Sarah Giraldo fell 6-0, 6-0. Sofia Aguilera couldn't claim a victory in the No. 3 spot, losing 6-0, 6-2. Joanna Abreu Roman narrowly missed out on a victory, losing 6-3, 7-6. Western still couldn't gain traction in doubles matches. El Ghazi and Aguilera fell 8-1 in the No. 1 spot. Giraldo and Abreu Roman took a 8-2 loss in the No. 2 spot. The 9-0 loss would be the Griffons third straight loss of the season, and the first three-game skid since 2013-14. Head coach Shawn Becker knew how difficult the match would be going into it on Friday. "Southwest is a good team and they're a different type of good team," Becker said. "We haven't really played against that type of player. These were girls that could go out...and hit their spots...It was the most emotional our team has ever gotten. There were a couple tears afterwards." Despite taking a hard loss, a bit of good came from Friday's match. Aguilera was injured during the match, however she powered through and finished her singles and doubles matches. "We also had an injury that popped up," Becker said. "That kind of got everybody freaked out. When somebody falls down crying right away, you're like, 'What is going on?' Luckily, it's not much of an issue. Sofia got back up. She finished her doubles match; she played singles no problem. So, we rested her on Satuday." Western would look to recover the next day against Lincoln University. It was the Griffon turn to sweep the competition. They cleaned up the singles matches, winning all six. El Ghazi claimed her match at No. 1 6-0, 6-0. Giraldo took a 6-0, 6-2 victory at the No. 2 spot. Abreu Roman cleaned up the No. 3 spot 6-1, 6-0. Meara Smith took the No. 4 spot 6-0, 6-0. Denise Chiao and Lindsay Beger took the No. 5 and 6 spots with 6-0, 6-0 victories respectively. Western continued the sweep going into doubles matches. El Ghazi and Aguilera took the No. 1 spot with a convincing 8-1 victory. Beger and Giraldo claimed the No. 2 spot victory with an 8-2 score. Chiao and Abreu Roman took No. 3 with a 8-0 win. For the second time this season, the Griffons took a 9-0 victory. "We knew we out-matched Lincoln and it was a matter of us not losing games," Becker said. "I wasn't asking for perfection, but I didn't want us to lose any points, any games, that we shouldn't be losing." This win snapped their losing streaking at put them at 9-5 overall. "We risk this new sense of expectation on us with a regional ranking last week and trying to build up momentum here for our match against Lindenwood, and then playoffs," Becker said. "We wrapped up a playoff spot, we'll be there, we're just working on seeding at this point. We know how big Sunday is against Lindenwood." Western will close out the regular season with senior day this Sunday, April 24 against Lindenwood. The Griffons will be sending off Beger, Chiao, Smith and Giraldo as they finish up their careers as Griffons.

Tennis hits rough patch over weekend

The Griffons had a home stay this weekend, facing Washburn, Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State. On Thursday, April 7, Western had a strong showing against the Ichabods in dual matches. In the No. 1 spot, Yasmine El Ghazi took her match 6-3, 7-6. Sarah Giraldo claimed a 6-4, 6-3 win in the No. 2 spot. Sofia Aguilera held down the No. 3 spot with 7-5, 6-0 victory. Joanna Abreu Roman had a big No. 4 spot victory, taking the match 6-2, 7-6. Abreu Roman would remain undefeated in dual matches. The Griffons claimed wins in the No. 1 and No. 2 spot for doubles. Aguilera and El Ghazi took the No. 1 match 9-8, while Abreu Roman and Giraldo took the No. 2 match 8-6. Overall, the Griffons defeated the Ichabods 6-3. Head coach Shawn Becker understood the emotion that went into the victory for his squad. "This past week was quite emotional for the ladies," Becker said. "The Washburn match, anybody that was there saw what that match meant for both teams. Our character showed us the way through that match. It was a hotly contested match. Sportsmanship, line calls; there was a lot of questionable antics going on out there. It was nice to see that we kept our heads held high. We kept our emotions in check and we came out of that match." On Saturday, April 9, the Griffons lost a heartbreaker to the Bronchos. Losing five of six in their dual matches, Abreu Roman was the only Griffon to come away victorious. She claimed the No. 4 spot with a 6-4, 7-5 victory. Western wouldn't gain any traction in the doubles matches either. All three Griffon duos were defeated. Western fell to UCO 8-1. "Saturday was much closer...we emptied our tank Saturday," Becker said. "Doubles took the life out of us...Singles, the first three, three set losses. That was so hard for us. After that match, there were a lot of tears, but we spent ourselves out there." The Griffons rounded off the weekend with a match against No.16 Northeastern State on Sunday, April 10. Western started off with an early two points, after the RiverHawks defaulted at No. 6 sinlges and No. 3 doubles matches. Unfortunately, those would be the only points the Griffons would make in the match. NSU claimed all five singles matches, including a 6-0, 6-1 victory in the No. 4 spot over Abreu Roman. It would be her first singles loss of the season. NSU would also secure victories in both doubles spots, winning 8-3 and 8-2, respectively. Feeling as if Saturday's match wore them out before Sunday's, Becker believes they missed opportunities. "They [Northeastern] are No. 16 in the nation. They are a great team," Becker said. "But we make them play in spots and we see where they're vulnerable and we don't make them play...6-0's and 6-1's happen because we don't do enough in our capabilities and that's what happened." The Griffons hit a two loss skid for the first time all season, falling to 8-4 overall and 3-4 in MIAA play. Western will face off against Southwest Baptist on Friday, April 15 in Bolivar, Missouri. The match is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

Griffon tennis sets eyes on a new season

Western tennis will kick off the spring season in Red Oak, Iowa as they take on the Graceland University Yellowjackets. Western went 1-0 in the fall in non-tournament matches, with a narrow 5-4 victory over William Jewell. Head coach Shawn Becker says the team's goals are set much higher for this spring. "Coming off the fall, I'm going to go back to our ITAs, and that's been the motivating factor for us," Becker said. "We didn't play well. We know that's not what we want Missouri Western tennis to look like." However, Becker has made some adjustments to the squad, including some changes to the teams and a more aggressive approach to the season. He is hoping for good results this weekend. "We have new teams, new positions," Becker said. "It'll be nice to see how that's actually going to pan out." Graceland is coming off of a rockier finish to their fall season. They wrapped up at 1-1 in non-tournament matches. They cleaned up a nice 5-3 victory over Grand View University, but were swept a couple weeks later 0-7 by Emporia State. This year's squad is stacked with veterans, including four seniors. Lindsay Beger feels confident going into this weekend's match. "Wrapping up the season with ITAs and that win over William Jewell gave all of us the belief that we're still the same strong team we all grew to be last year and we didn't go anywhere," Beger said. "With practicing hard everyday and the season starting up Friday, we hope to continue where we left off in the fall against Jewell." Denise Chiao is hopeful for a strong showing from the entire team. "I hope that we can start our spring season strong," Chiao said. "The past matches have only made us stronger for this season and I hope we can all go out there and play hard." As for goals this season, Beger wants to be more positive when she's on the court. As for the team, she says they have their own set of goals that they'd like to accomplish. "When last season ended, we had goal cards set for this season that we would carry with us or clip on our bags; those three goals we hope to meet," Beger said. "The two top priority goals we have set are finishing top 3 in the MIAA and qualifying for regionals." Griffon tennis will travel up to Iowa this Friday, February 5 to take on Graceland. The match is set to begin at 3 p.m.

Senior tennis players honored

As Missouri Western honored seniors Ceara Boldridge and Kayla Dysart, the women’s tennis team went 1-1 on Saturday, sweeping Lincoln (9-0) but losing to  No. 19 Southwest Baptist 4-5. The Griffons managed to grab all six wins in singles matches and all three in doubles this past Saturday. Senior Dysart said it felt pretty good wining on her senior night. “I feel like it has been a long time coming. Every single year I feel like our team has been improving and improving. It feels good to finally be on a team that shows how well we’ve been doing,” she said. Dysart also knew coming into the Lincoln game it would be one of the easier matches, but still put forth all their effort. “They’ve never been much of a competition but just because of that, that doesn’t mean that we can’t give our full efforts whenever we get ahead. Whenever I was playing I just made sure to keep going strong,” Dysart said. Sarah Giraldo, who also played a great match against Lincoln, claimed a 7-5, 6-4 win. “I just went out with the mindset expecting to give my best. I keep my mindset on winning no matter what,” she said. “Makes me feel good to be a part of team that has become great, although we’ve had a lot of struggles.” Head coach Chris Canady said it was one of those matches where everyone did their part and did a pretty good job. “The number one player for Lincoln is a good player, and I thought Sarah did a good job coming back and pulling out that win. She came ready to play,” he said. Canady said Lincoln was a little down this year and they struggled to keep a full roster, so that was a big challenge for the Lions. “When a team has only four players, it’s easier to not give your best against a team like that, but I think our girls did a good job not doing that against Lincoln.,” Canady said. The Griffons left no remorse for the Lions, but came up short against the  No. 19 Southwest Baptist Bearcats in a close 5-4 loss. Canady was still pleased with the way his team handled their business. “Our team played well but again, we were pretty fortunate because they didn’t have anyone in two spots: they only had five players. But they’re so good that they can afford that,” he said. “Even though I haven’t been here that long, it certainly was an emotional day because Ceara Boldridge and Kayla Dysart have shown such great leadership this year and have been very open and welcome to having a new coach. They’ve really made it easy and have bought in, so I think they ended on a good note as seniors." Dysart was one of the few Griffon players who snagged a win against the Bearcats. “I think they underestimated us and just the fact that we were so close, even though we did lose, none of us felt like we lost. It was a great match and a great senior day for me,” Dysart said. Giraldo wasn’t able to bring home the win, but had great things to say about the way her team played. “Everybody fought really hard and my match was pretty hard, the girl was pretty good but overall I felt like I played hard in my doubles and everything,” she said. “My teammates brought good energy; we were all motivated and had the mindset that we were able to beat this team, and we were so close to beating them.” Former Bearcat Canady said it was one of those matches where again, they learned a lot from it.