The Marquette men’s and women’s tennis programs are back for the spring season. The men’s team is coming off a Big East Championship a year ago and the women’s team lost in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament. The teams return with the same goal this season and that is to win a Big East Title.
The women’s team returns everyone from last year except last year’s lone senior Paula Tormos Sanchez. The team returns last year’s Big East Freshman of the Year in Natalija Popovic, who looks to lead the team this year. Popovic and junior Fleur Eggink are the leaders on the team this year, as they are usually playing the top two players on the opposing team. The combo plays doubles together as well and seem to really play well together. Also returning for the women’s team are juniors Milica Novakovic, Isabella Franks and Lesley Foe. The three complete the starting lineup along with newcomers Elisabeth Desmarais and Alex Chinikova. FUN FACT: There is not a single American born player on the team. The women are from all over the world including Serbia, France, Netherlands, Canada and Australia.
The team is 4-2 with wins over Green Bay, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Illinois State. The Western Michigan match was a close one. Eggink and Popovic beat their doubles opponents 7-5 while Novakovic and Franks won their match 6-5. In singles, Franks and Foe won their matches easily defeating their opponents 6-0, 6-2 and 6-3, 7-5 respectively. It was MVP of the match, Fleur Eggink, who sealed it for the Golden Eagles though. She got swept 6-0 in the first set, but came back strong and won the next two sets 6-2 and 7-5. In the last two sets Eggink looked absolutely dominant and kept it together during a nerve wracking tiebreaker in the final set. One rule I really do not like in college tennis is that there are usually not enough umpires for every court so sometimes the athletes need to play by themselves and call their own match. There was one point in the match where Popovic was playing against her opponent and she hit a ball that was clearly in and the girl could not get to it so she called it out. I almost lost my mind because the ball was clearly in, so Mark Emmert, if you are reading this, please hire more tennis umpires.
In the Illinois State match, the Golden Eagles were in control the entire time. The Eggink/Popovic duo won 6-4, while the combinations of Desmarais/Novakovic and Franks/Chinikova also won 6-4. Eggink won her singles matches, again coming back after dropping the first set. Popovic won her match 7-6, 6-7, 10-8. Chinikova, Foe and Franks all swept their opponent.
Their next match is Friday at home against Drake. I encourage fans to check out a tennis match at the Helfaer Rec Center. I have been to a bunch and I think they are a lot of fun and are usually super intense.
The men’s team is currently 3-3 with wins over Georgetown, UIC and Valparaiso. They are led by returning Big East Player of the Year, senior Alvaro Verdu. They’ll be in Madison to play Wisconsin on Thursday night, but have home dates against IUPUI and Chicago State on Saturday and Sunday. If you’ve got time in your schedule, swing by the Rec Center and check it out!