The Michigan State women’s tennis team dropped its third match in a row, losing to Nebraska Sunday morning. The Cornhuskers came out on top winning 4-2, while the Spartans fall to 7-7 overall on the season.
The doubles were much in the Spartans favor. Freshman Marley Lambert and senior Dagmar Zdrubecka set the tone early with a dominating victory over junior Isabel Gallego and sophomore Ana Zamburek, winning 6-1.
Cornhusker senior Samantha Alicea and junior Raphaelle Lacasse weren’t ready to let the Spartans run away with the doubles point, however. They defeated sophomore Liisa Vehvilainen and junior Ayshe Can 6-4. With one more set of doubles playing, the energy from the crowd was much more noticeable.
MSU freshman Issey Purser and graduate student Nicole Conard were down early to sophomores Anfisa Danilchenko and Lucy Loy 5-3. The Cornhuskers seemed to be in control of the doubles point until Purser and Conard rallied for four straight sets and defeated Danilchenko and Loy 7-5.
After the momentum shift, the Spartans captured the doubles point heading into the singles matches.
The Cornhuskers noticeably picked up the intensity and quickly jumped ahead in the singles. Lacasse won two sets against Purser 6-3 and 6-2, putting Nebraska up early.
There were no signs of slowing down for the Cornhuskers as sophomore Jillian Roa only needed two sets as well to take down Conard. Roa won both sets by a score of 6-4 each.
The trend continued as Danilchenko defeated MSU freshman Juliette Nask in three hard fought sets. Danilchenko took the first set by a score of 6-4. Nask fought back and responded in blowout fashion taking the second set 6-1. In the third set, Danilchenko prevailed by a significant score of her own, taking it 6-1.
Lambert and Alicea battled back and forth in a high intensity match. Alicea took the first set 6-2. Lambert went down 5-1 in the second set, but began to rally and bring the best of emotions out of her. Many crowd members began to surround Court 5. Alicea noticed the Spartan support as she chirped at Lambert and the spectators sending messages including telling them to be quiet.
Both athletes showed their fire as Lambert cut the second set lead and tied it up 6-6. The incredible comeback wasn’t enough as Alicea ultimately jumped ahead and took the second set and match, winning 7-6 (7-5).
Vehvilainen was able to provide a spark for the Spartans. She defeated Zamburek in two close sets, taking the first 7-6 (7-2) and the second 6-4.
Vehvilainen explained how the energy in the building that came not just from her match, but her teammates’ matches as well helped boost her confidence.
“Like Marley here, right next to me was playing. The crowd was going crazy in her match and that definitely helped me out as well,” Vehvilainen said.
Vehvilainen also emphasized that her energy hasn’t been there in the past few matches and that she felt that the contest this morning helped her move past some of those performances.
Can and Gallego’s match went unfinished to cap off Nebraska’s big day. Can took the first set 6-2, while Gallego captured the second set 6-2 and was leading 6-5 before the match was called off.
Head Coach Kim Bruno was disappointed with how some of the matches went as the Spartans seemed to fall short in many ways.
“We’re obviously in every single match we’ve played,” Bruno said. “We’ve had so many opportunities. We’ve got to be more discipline. We’ve got to be more tough in those moments, and I don’t know if they know exactly what that looks like.”
Bruno also touched on the fact that these standards are what have to be done in order to win matches in Big Ten play.
Even though the Spartans dropped a lot of close matches, Coach Bruno thinks this could be good experience for the team going forward as they get a sense of more competitive tennis.
“I mean, there’s a lot of good things to draw from this, but you know the harsh reality is they need to be the ones to figure out what discipline and toughness looks like in big moments,” Bruno said.
The Spartans look to bounce back on Saturday as they take on Minnesota at 11 a.m. at the MSU Indoor Tennis Center.