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FHSU tennis falls against perennial MIAA power




The Northwest Missouri State University women's tennis team has posted a 19-10 record in the last year and a half, including a 7-0 mark in MIAA play last season. During the same span, Fort Hays State University has a 9-18 record and 1-7 mark in conference play.

On Friday, the Tigers suffered an 8-1 loss to Northwest Missouri in their conference opener at the FHSU Tennis Courts. Fort Hays (3-6, 1-1 MIAA) picked up a win at No. 1 doubles with sophomores Melissa Skovira and Laura Johnson. Coach Brian Flax was pleased with his team's performance versus the Bearcats (2-3, 1-1 MIAA).

"They have got some little distance between where were at and where they are at," Flax said. "I felt like they beat us. I don't feel like we lost it. I thought the girls played pretty well at the No. 1 doubles spot."

Skovira/Johnson was up 4-1 against Northwest's team of sophomore Erika Leston and freshman Leslee Feldhaus before the Bearcats made a run, but Fort Hays broke Northwest's serve to win the match. Skovira/Johnson moved to 2-1 in doubles this year, tied for the best record among Fort Hays' doubles teams.

"Melissa is more of the energy, rah-rah type of a person and Laura is more of the laid back, calmer," Flax said.

"Sometimes you would like to see Laura step up a little bit with a little bit more energy, but that is really not her personality. They really do complement each other very well and that was a big win."

Johnson pushed Northwest freshman Alexis Bartek at No. 2 singles, losing 6-4, 6-0.

"All of a sudden it just went from being pretty good to the momentum got with the other girl and things just kind of went downhill fast," Flax said.

Skovira lost 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, freshman Zoie Young dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision at No. 3, sophomore Brianna Watkins lost 6-1, 6-3 at No. 4, junior Brittney Shea suffered 6-1, 6-0 defeat at No. 5 and sophomore Amy Guilliams lost 6-2, 6-3 at the sixth spot.

"Brianna Watkins at No. 4 played a girl that had extremely big topspin groundstrokes and it took Bri a little bit to get those groundstrokes under control, but hung tough and did a great job," Flax said. "The scores don't always show really how close things were. I was just proud that they played and that Northwest beat us and that we didn't hand it over to them."

Flax believed the loss can give FHSU confidence for the rest of the season. Fort Hays will continue its MIAA slate with road matches against Emporia State University and Washburn University next weekend.

"There was so sense of fear that they just ran over us," Flax said. "They came out and we played them toe-to-toe and today they were a better team and we just need to continue to go out and practice and continue getting better. When you are coming out and playing one of the best teams in the conference and you stand right there against them, there is no reason for us to be afraid to play anybody."

Sport Date Opponent Score
2/18 SW Baptist L 66-53
12/1 Oklahoma - Panhandle L 66-60 (OT)