Women’s tennis enters spring conference play

The women’s tennis team lost its conference opener against the University of Illinois Springfield 5-4 after playing for a total of six hours and having to move indoors due to a change in weather conditions.

It came down to the third set of the last match with the teams tied 4-4 when Springfield’s Maegan Flight defeated USI’s Haley Jones for the win.

USI is now 6-8 on the season and head coach Keely Porter said losing Saturday makes getting into the GLVC Tournament especially difficult because the team’s conference schedule only consists of playing six teams in the league.

“From my experience and what I know about the teams, it probably will be Saturday’s match that determines the team that makes the [GLVC] Tournament,” Porter said. “We knew it was going to be really important, and we knew from common opponents that it was going to be very close.”

To make the tournament, USI will need to finish in the top four of the eastern side of the GLVC.  Porter said to do that, the team needs to go at least 3-2 in conference play for the remainder of the season.

USI is currently behind five other teams in the east, though if they win their next two conference games they’ll be able to move into at least a tie for the fourth spot.

She said she is optimistic about the team’s chances against their next four opponents, including two GLVC teams Mckendree University (5-9) and Saint Joseph’s College (0-1).

Co-captain Kelsey Shipman said even with the loss Saturday included, she thinks the team has been improving as the season has gone on because they have been playing against a high level of competition.

“I played against Jane [Carter]; she got freshman of the GLVC my freshman year. I played well, but she was outstanding,” Shipman said. “She was painting the lines. Her first serve was probably 15 or 20 mph faster than it was in doubles. I don’t think she double faulted one time. Yesterday, she played better than I did and came out with a very nice win.”

Shipman said moving forward, the team needs to stop expecting to win against some opponents based on how the team performed against them last season, because teams change from year-to-year when new recruits join and players improve.

USI’s next match is against Lindenwood University Belleville on Friday before taking on GLVC opponent Mckendree University on Saturday.