By Michael Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor (Courtesy photo/Bison Athletics)
The Oklahoma Baptist men’s and women’s tennis teams have been back in full swing since returning from spring break.
The women’s team began the week by welcoming GAC opponents Arkansas Tech to Shawnee Monday, April 2. Then, both the men’s and women’s teams hit the road and traveled to Arkadelphia, Arkansas to battle Ouachita Baptist University Friday, April 6.
Ultimately, both the men’s and women’s teams were able to win their matches, starting GAC play with a combined record of a perfect 3-0. Thus far, the Lady Bison have proven to be too good for their GAC opponents.
In their opening GAC match versus Arkansas Tech, the Lady Bison came in with a killer mentality.
“We felt really good and well-prepared coming into the match,” junior Alex Bowers said. “The match helped to build our confidence as a team.”
In the match, the Bison were able to jump out to an early lead over Arkansas Tech after they claimed two out of three doubles victories.
The battle of the No. 1’s for doubles was won by the duo of sophomore Kim Moosbacher and senior Kateryna Shkot, with a score of 8-3. Also, the team of Bowers and junior Caroline Abbe claimed a victory in the No. 3 doubles match, 8-5.
“The team really pulled through and did what we needed to do to take care of business,” sophomore Tahlia Walsh said. “Though we were fatigued, we still came out and performed well when it was important.”
The Bison followed doubles with a sweep of all six of the singles matches, which secured an 8-1 team victory over Arkansas Tech.
In their next matchup, the Lady Bison picked up exactly where they left off.
In the three doubles matches, the Lady Bison only surrendered one game. Moosbacher and Shkot started things off with an 8-0 victory in No. 1 doubles. Then junior Madeleine Boepple and Walsh won 8-1 in No. 2 doubles.
Lastly, Abbe and Bowers finished the doubles sweep, winning 8-0. Also, for the second straight match, the Lady Bison secured wins in all six of the singles matches.
“We really believe we will do big things this season,” Walsh said. “We are striving to win conference and make it to nationals.”
The Lady Bison are now a combined 10-4 overall on the season.
“This team is special because everyone gives everything they have into the matches,” Bowers said. “No matter if we win or lose, everyone gives 100 percent.”
The OBU men’s team also faced off against Ouachita Baptist for their first GAC contest of the season.
“We were very excited to open up conference play,” junior Lucas Branco said. “We knew that it would be a close match.”
The Bison went 1-2 in their doubles matches, sophomore Matias Le Forte and Branco took the only doubles match out of the three, winning at No. 2 doubles, 8-2.
Unfortunately, the Bison were forced to forfeit a doubles match due to injury. In singles, the Bison won the matches for No. 2-5, which proved to barely be enough to secure the win against Ouachita Baptist.
Due to injury, senior Babji Atturu was forced to play and ended up being the deciding win in the match.
“The team showed a tremendous amount of heart in the match,” sophomore Gianlucca Galdi said. “We dealt with adversity and we responded well.”
The final score of the match versus Ouachita Baptist was 5-4 in OBU’s favor. This pushed the men’s team to 1-0 in conference and 7-5 overall on the season.
“We were thrilled with the win against Ouachita,” Branco said. “This team has a lot of potential to do great things.”
Something the Bison rely on is their willingness and drive to win matches.
“We have worked for this season all year long,” Galdi said. “The time is finally here to show how good we can be. Our team has a special desire to win, making us dangerous.”
Next for OBU tennis is a matchup versus GAC opponents Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Okla. Tuesday, April 10.