Women’s tennis finished second in the Western Athletic Conference season losing only one match, 4-3, against Grand Canyon University.
The Roos were undefeated going into Sunday’s match against GCU, beating Seattle 7-0 Sunday and UT Rio Grande Valley 6-1 Friday.
“It’s our depth – I feel comfortable in every position,” said Coach Kendell Hale. “In tennis every position is worth the same point, so that’s just an amazing thing that you can count on number six just like you are with a number one position.”
To open conference play UMKC beat New Mexico State for the first time in program history, 4-3. The Aggies won courts one through three, but Roos Yana Grechkina, Katie Fries, and Thanushree Vale won court 4 through 6. The singles match was tied 3 to 3, and the Roos received the decision by winning two out of three in doubles.
Aliona Ladutska plays on court one in singles and has proven to be one of the strongest players in the WAC. She beat Seattle’s number one, Michelle Lui, 6 (sets) – 1 (set) and 6-3. She did this all while cheering on teammates between her points.
“We’re really close to each other and we support each other all the time, no matter what, on and off the court,” said Ladutska. “That’s our key to success.”
The motivation spilled onto court 4 for Yana Grechkina. She dominated her opponent, 6-0 and 6-0.
“I think support is the biggest thing,” said Grechkina. “Even if you lose, you feel like you have a teammate next to you, and here we go.”
The Roos also defeated conference rival, Chicago State, 7-0 March 19. The momentum the team has been riding has produced seven wins out of the past nine.
“There’s a lot of peaks and valleys in matches and whoever can recover and is mentally tough and who wants it more usually wins those matches,” said Hale, “and our girls have just shown that consistently throughout this season – that they really want it.”
Hale likes to keep his team having fun. Both Ladutska and Grechkina said that he aims at keeping things fun during practice and tries to make sure tennis is not a job – that the team is enjoying matches and doesn’t feel the pressure.
“There is no animal meaner that a female kangaroo with someone trying to take their joey,” Hale said to the team for inspiration, mentioning the Roos’ opponent. “That’s what they’re trying to do.”