Last weekend, Indiana women’s tennis closed out its fall season in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as it competed in the 34th annual Roberta Alison Fall Classic. Led by graduate transfer Lauren Lemonds, the Hoosiers put up an impressive fight against opponents from top-ranked programs across the two-day event.
Lemonds headlined the event for Indiana, winning all three matches in her draw. After a smooth-sailing victory, 6-4 and 6-4, against the University of Alabama’s Rebeka Kern she faced a major obstacle in South Alabama’s Otoha Aoki in the semifinals.
After losing a grueling first set 5-7, Lemonds found herself needing a comeback. Sure enough, Lemonds turned in an incredible show of resiliency, dominating the remainder of the match to win 5-7, 6-0 and 10-2.
Lemonds’ finals matchup saw her facing off against a familiar face: former teammate Charlotte Gisclon. Prior to her time in Bloomington, Lemonds played four years at Michigan State and was now in a position to clash with her alma mater.
Her final match of the weekend ended with a win against Gisclon, 6-3 and 7-6, to secure the Hoosiers’ sole championship win of the weekend.
“She just really stayed mentally tough,” head coach Ramiro Azcui said. “We're very proud of her performance.”
Although Lemonds was the only Indiana player to win her draw, graduate transfer Saby Nihalani as well as redshirt juniors Mila Mejic and Rose Hu contributed solid performances for the team.
Nihalani was faced with an early exit after being defeated in a back-and-forth match , 6-4, 3-6 and 10-7. Despite the disappointment of a first round exit to Ola Pitak, the player Nihalani lost to, would advance to win the rest of her games in straight sets and win the draw.
Mejic maneuvered through her draw to earn a finals matchup against Michigan State’s Juliette Nask, but it was the Spartan won, 6-3 and 6-1.
Lastly, Hu made great strides, winning two matches before falling to Tulane University sophomore Sean Mullen, 5-7, 7-5 and 11-9.
The doubles matchups for the Hoosiers saw Hu and Nihalani in one pair and Lemonds and Mejic in another.
Hu and Nihalani had difficulty getting a footing early on and were knocked out in the first round by Alabama’s team of Parkhomenko and Sedlackova, 7-5.
Lemonds and Mejic showed a bit more hope for the cream and crimson, winning their first two matches, but found themselves packing their bags after losing to Kasia and Ola Pitak, the sibling pair from the hosting Alabama, 6-3.
Although the team had struggled in their doubles matches over the fall season, Azcui said they are putting time and effort into solidifying their play in that facet of the game.
“Our emphasis right now is trying to play better doubles and trying to find the doubles combinations,”Azcui said. “We are trying to do anything with doubles that we can in order to be a better team.”
Overall, the Hoosier’s fall season was positive, as the team had a winning record in its singles matches. It also showed how much chemistry the team has with one another, redshirt sophomore Laura Schneider said.
“We're super supportive, and I think our singles play is a lot better than it was last year as well,” Schneider said. “It's a lot higher intensity, day in and day out.”
Indiana women’s tennis will resume play for the spring season in early February where Azcui said they will, “try to continue solid singles performances while patching up the holes in doubles play.”
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