Sycamore Tennis Teams Begin Quest For MVC Championships On Friday
Courtesy:ISU Athletics
Courtesy: ISU Athletics

TERRE HAUTE, IND. – The Indiana State women’s tennis team will take the second seed into this weekend’s State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Team Championship while the men’s team has the sixth seed. The 2009 championship will be played in Omaha, Neb., Friday through Sunday, in either the indoor facility at the Hanscom Tennis Center or the outdoor facility at the Koch Family Tennis Center, depending on the weather.


Wichita State (18-5, 8-0 MVC) has the top seed in the women’s tournament with Indiana State (8-11, 6-2 MVC) second. These two schools have battled for the Missouri Valley Championship for the past three years with the Shockers topping the Sycamores in the championship match in 2006 and 2007.


Indiana State captured their first Missouri Valley Conference team championship in 2008 and advanced to their first ever appearance in the NCAA Team Championship.


Southern Illinois (16-7, 5-3) is the third seed with Illinois State (13-9, 5-3) the fourth seed.


This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Sycamores with four of the top six players from 2008 completing their eligibility and graduating from Indiana State. However, a strong freshman class backed by returning sophomore Sarah Meghoufel, the 2008 Freshman of the Year, and junior transfer Sofya Lifanova, has made the Sycamores a contender once again.


The Sycamores climbed into the battle for the league championship despite having just four players available during the conference regular season. Freshman Aleksandra Dzakula suffered a season ending ankle injury in March but that only made the Indiana State team more focused. Meghoufel, Lifanova and freshman Anna Morgina finished the MVC regular season with 7-1 records while freshman Elmine Botes was 6-2.


In doubles, Lifanova and Morgina were 7-1 in the Valley at No. 2 doubles while Meghoufel and Botes were 3-5 in MVC play at No. 1 doubles.


In five of their MVC matches this spring, the Sycamores lost the doubles point but battled back to win four of those matches by sweeping play in the singles.


Drake (13-9, 6-0) is the top seed in the men’s tournament with Southern Illinois (15-6, 5-1) second, Wichita State (9-12, 4-2) third and Illinois State (8-11, 3-3) fourth. The Sycamores are the sixth seed with a 3-17 mark overall and 1-5 record in the Valley.


Indiana State went back to the basics earlier this season and have shown improvement with each match they played. Despite their season record, the Sycamores were close to winning in every match they played. Unforced errors and mental mistakes, problems that head coach Malik Tabet has been working on throughout the season, kept Indiana State from winning more matches than they did but optimism still abounds within the program.


Juniors Mpiloenhle Migogo and Jon Sigurdsson, along with sophomore Josh Smith and freshman Milos Pavlovic were 2-4 in Valley play this year while junior Blake Douglas was 1-3, senior Michael Wenham 0-3 and Chris Finney 0-4.


In doubles, Sigurdsson and Smith were 3-3 in the Valley at No. 1 doubles while Migogo and Wenham were 2-4 at No. 2 doubles. Pavlovic was 1-5 at No. 3 doubles including 1-3 with Douglas and 0-2 with Finney.


Looking Back -


ISU WOMEN - The Sycamores began the week with a 4-3 victory over Evansville on Wednesday but then dropped their last two matches of the regular season, losing at Southern Illinois 5-2 on Friday and by the same 5-2 count in the home finale against #72 Minnesota on Saturday.


Sarah Meghoufel (Oran, Algeria) had her winning streak in the Missouri Valley Conference snapped on Friday, two days after pushing that streak to 15 regular season matches with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Evansville’s Kate Chybowski. The streak ended with a 2-6, 1-6 loss to Southern Illinois’ Fadzai Mawisire. The Sycamore sophomore bounced back on Saturday to close out the regular season with a dominating 6-1, 6-0 victory over Minnesota’s Karina Chiarelli. Meghoufel won nine of her last 10 matches at No. 1 singles to finish the regular season 12-7 overall and 7-1 in the Valley.


Anna Morgina (Moscow, Russia) closed out her first season as a Sycamore by winning all three of her matches at No. 2 singles. The freshman topped Evansville’s Ashton Schwerin 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, defeated Southern Illinois’ Vishakha Sheoran 6-1, 6-3, and then turned back Minnesota’s Tijana Koprivica 6-2, 5-7, 10-8, with a tremendous rally in the tie-breaker. Morgina won her last five matches and nine of her last 10 to finish the regular season 16-3 overall and 7-1 in the Valley.


Sofya Lifanova (Moscow, Russia) went 2-1 during the final week of the regular season, closing out the MVC season with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-0) win over Evansville’s Theadora Kotsiou and a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Southern Illinois’ Ame Blacketer. The Sycamore junior was defeated in her final match of the regular season 1-6, 2-6 by Minnesota’s Alessandra Ferrazzi. Lifanova won eight of her last 10 matches at No. 3 singles to conclude the regular season 10-9 overall and 7-1 in the Valley.


Elmine Botes (Johannesburg, South Africa) opened the week with a 6-1, 6-2 win

over Evansville’s Pin Sorensen but then dropped her final two matches of the regular season, falling 2-6, 6-7 (1-7) to SIU’s Jessica Flannery and dropping a 0-6, 0-6 decision to Minnesota’s Niltooli Wilkins. The Sycamore freshman still won seven of her last 10 matches and finished the regular season with a 10-9 record overall and 6-2 mark in the Valley.


Anna Morgina and Sofya Lifanova have won seven straight at No. 2 doubles including an 8-4 win at Evansville, an 8-4 victory at Southern Illinois and an 8-3 triumph over Minnesota. The Sycamore finished the regular season with a 13-5 record overall and a 7-1 mark in the Valley.


Sarah Meghoufel and Elmine Botes dropped their last three matches at No. 1 doubles, losing 5-8 at Evansville, 2-8 at Southern Illinois and then closing out the regular season with a hard fought 6-8 loss to Minnesota. The Sycamore duo finished the regular season 6-12 overall and 3-5 in the Valley.


ISU MEN - The Sycamores were on the road for their final two matches of the regular season, dropping a pair of 2-5 decisions at Bradley on Saturday and at Illinois State on Sunday.


Jon Sigurdsson (Lund, Sweden) had ISU’s lone singles win against Bradley on Saturday, stopping Bradley’s Michel Macara-chvili 6-2, 6-3.


The other Sycamore point came from the doubles as Sigurdsson and Josh Smith (Cape Town, South Africa) won at No. 1 doubles 8-6, and Michael Wenham (Burgess Hill, United Kingdom) and Mpiloenhle Migogo (Johannesburg, South Africa) posted an 8-5 victory at No. 2 doubles.


Josh Smith earned one of Indiana State’s two points against Illinois State Sunday with a 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 triumph over Timon Reichelt at No. 1 singles. Milos Pavlovic (Beograd, Serbia) earned the other Sycamore point with a 6-3, 6-4 victory at No. 4 singles over Michael Hobson.


Smith finished the regular season with a 7-13 record overall and 2-4 mark in the Valley while Migogo was 7-12 overall and 2-4 in the MVC. Sigurdsson had a 4-15 record overall and 2-4 mark in the conference, Pavlovic 6-14 overall and 2-4 in the MVC, Wenham 2-11 overall and 0-3 in the MVC, Blake Douglas (Terre Haute, Ind.) was 3-11 overall and 1-3 in the MVC, and Chris Finney (Tafton, Penn.) was 0-10 on the season and 0-4 in the Valley.


In doubles, Sigurdsson and Smith were 6-10 overall and 3-3 in the MVC with Migogo and Wenham 4-4 overall and 2-4 in the Valley. Pavlovic was 1-7 overall and 1-3 in the Valley with Douglas and 0-2 in the MVC with Finney.


Missouri Valley Conference Honors -


APR. 21 - Indiana State freshman Anna Morgina (Moscow, Russia) was named the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Week. Morgina closed out her first spring season with the Sycamores with a 6-0 record last week. The Sycamore freshman capped her first Missouri Valley Conference campaign with wins over Evansville’s Ashton Schwerin (6-2, 3-6, 6-3) and Southern Illinois’ Vishakha Sheoran (6-1, 6-3). She closed out the regular season with a dramatic 6-2, 5-7, 10-8 win over Minnesota’s Tijana Koprivica in a match where Morgina was down 8-4 in the tie-breaker and rallied to score the final six points for the win. At No. 2 doubles, Morgina and junior Sofya Lifanova closed out the regular season with an 8-4 win over Evansville’s Ashton Schwerin and Pin Sorensen, an 8-4 triumph over Southern Illinois’ Vishakha Sheoran and Martina Vianna Ce, and an 8-3 victory over Minnesota’s Alex Seaton and Magdalena Wiecha.


APR. 8 - Indiana State sophomore Sarah Meghoufel (Oran, Algeria) was named the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Week. Meghoufel kept her singles record perfect in Missouri Valley Conference action, winning both of her matches during the previous week to improve to 12-0 in her career in MVC regular season matches.  

The Sycamore veteran defeated Creighton’s Tess Reddin 4-6, 7-6, 6-0 on Apr. 3 in Omaha,  Neb., and topped Wichita State’s Anna Egorova 5-7, 6-3, 10-7 Apr. 4 in Wichita, Kan.


Feb. 18 - Indiana State freshman Anna Morgina (Moscow, Russia) was named the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week. Morgina defeated Michigan State’s Manon Noe 6-3, 6-4 Feb. 15 and teamed with doubles partner Sofya Lifanova to post an 8-5 win over 48th ranked Stephanie Kebler and Lindsey Lonergan of Michigan State.



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