Closing out the fall season, the Cougars finished with an overall 7-5 record in the ITA Central Regionals hosted by the University of Oklahoma.
Freshman Melissa Vizcardo jump-started the winning streaks with two winning rounds of qualifying singles against Cassie McKenzie of Saint Louis University 6-4, 6-4 and Shelby King of Arkansas State University 6-2, 6-0.
Vizcardo was among several of her teammates with winning matches during qualifiers.
“Most of my teammates were in qualifiers,” Vizcardo said. “We all got there earlier than the other players. The matches definitely got harder in main draw, after I qualified.”
After advancing to the main draw, Vizcardo fell to Laura Rijkers of Arkansas State University 6-4, 6-1.
Vizcardo said she felt humbled by the experience in the last match and plans to improve her game play moving forward.
“The girl from Arkansas was definitely experienced,” Vizcardo said. “I’m glad I got to qualify to play a player like that in the main draw. I plan to take the experience and work on a few things like my net game, consistency and being under that pressure of a big tournament.”
Moving forward, Vizcardo will continue to improve alongside her teammates.
“I think this is one of our better years,” Vizcardo said. “I think we gave it our all. We all had great matches and played great tennis. We’ve been working so hard, and it showed. There’s definitely room for improvement. We all can improve off each other.”
Freshman Jill Lambrechts defeated Riddhi Shamara of University of Missouri Kansas City 6-2, 6-2. In her next match, Lambrechts fell in her first set 3-6 to Luniuska Delgado of University of Kansas but won the second set 6-4. Lambrechts fell in the last set 2-6.
Of the two different matches, the first match allowed Lambrechts to play to her strengths.
“Both matches I played were very different,” Lambrechts said. “The first match was outside, and it was very windy in Oklahoma. I’m used to playing with the wind from back home. The second match was inside, so it was more about aggressiveness first instead of playing defensive.”
Lambrechts said she regards the matches as learning experiences and is proud of the overall performance of her teammates.
“Now, we close the fall season,” Lambrechts said. “After Christmas break, we will start the spring season. At the end of January, we host the first match at home. After these matches, I feel really confident about how we’ve improved and confident for the spring season, as well.”
Sophomore Nicole Gomez views regionals as one of the highlights of her collegiate tennis career.
“The ITAs were probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in college tennis — not just because it was an important tournament,” Gomez said. “It was also because of the fact that we got the chance to play with different teams that we’ve never played before. I believe that my team did a great job that week. We put all our effort in every match we had, and I’m really proud of it.”
The Cougars will begin the spring season at 9 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, when SIUE hosts Chicago State University at the Edwardsville YMCA.