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The Antelope

The Antelope

Tennis falls in regular season finale to stay on bubble

KYLIE SCHWAB / ANTELOPE STAFF Pranathi Gannavaram was the lone senior honered in UNK’s last home dual of the year.

The Lopers were looking for a resume-building win against Missouri Western State in the regular-season finale on Sunday. UNK entered at No. 7 in the central regional rankings looking to upset the No. 5 Griffons as the top six teams make it to regionals.

The Lopers failed to pull off the upset, losing 6-1 on the cold and windy day.

“When you have situations like wind like this and a tough opponent, you can’t just rely on your A-game,” said coach Scott Shafer. “If your A-game isn’t as good as their A-game then you better have something else, and I just don’t think we have enough tools at times.”

On the No. 1 singles court, UNK’s Melissa Becerra battled to the bitter end losing to Missouri Western’s Anya Chavez 7-5, 4-6, 7-5. The Lopers’ nationally-ranked doubles team, featuring Becerra and Jazmin Zamorono, won the No. 1 doubles match for the Lopers 7-6 (8-6). 

Becerra has been nursing a back injury this season. It was obvious to see the pain she was in after playing a three-set match in doubles and then turning around and playing a long, thrilling match in singles. 

“She’s just so tough,” Shafer said. “I don’t know what her limits are. I’ve never seen her quit. She just spoke to the team afterward and implored them to give more and fight harder. Who’s a better person to say that than the girl who played four hours of tennis today? Her leadership as a sophomore and 18-year-old is invaluable.”

With the Lopers trailing 3-1, the final three matches went into the third and deciding set. The Lopers went 0-3 in those matches with Alexis Bernthal losing to Anais Peralta Criado 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, Narindra Ranaivo losing to Esther Guemes 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 and Becerra’s loss to Chavez.

Zamorono was the lone Loper to secure a win as she defeated Isabella MacGibbon 6-0, 7-5.

“Jazmin lost a lot of matches waiting for her opponent to miss last year,” Shafer said. “She decided in her mind that she wasn’t gonna lose a match anymore waiting for misses. This year she’s much more aggressive, and she’s not afraid to miss. She’s out hitting the ball harder. When you do that, it allows you to control the point from the very beginning.”

UNK will travel to Edmond, Oklahoma on Friday for the MIAA Tournament. The Lopers will take on sixth regionally ranked Northwest Missouri State who defeated UNK 4-3 earlier in the season.

“Win and we’re in,” Shafer said. “If we beat them, then the ranking committee is going to have to decide which win is more important — the 4-3 win a month ago or us beating them in the conference tournament. Then we’ll switch and be in. If we don’t win that match, I see our season ending just like last year.”

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