While most students were on spring break, Northwest tennis took a trip of its own. But instead of doing so for fun, it was business.
The women’s tennis team traveled to Oklahoma to play two squads that finished in the top eight in the country last year. The No. 19-ranked Bearcats suffered a 4-3 loss to Northeastern State March 30.
Northwest captured the doubles point early in the dual but the RiverHawks gained singles wins at No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 spots, and that was enough to win the dual.
The next day, the Bearcats ventured to Edmond, Oklahoma, to face off against the No. 7-ranked Bronchos squad. Northwest was unable to garner the win, as it was only able to get victories at the No. 2 and No. 5 singles spots.
“We almost beat Northeastern,” coach Mark Rosewell said. “We lost 4-3 in terrible weather conditions; it was really cold. Actually, against Central Oklahoma, we lost 5-2, but it should’ve been 4-3. We had one of our players have three match points and should’ve won the match, but that’s the way it goes.”
A bright spot for the Bearcats was sophomore Irene Recuenco at the No. 2 singles position. Recuenco was able to capture one of the two wins on the day when she upset No. 4-ranked Isabella Dunlap in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. The Valencia, Spain, native is now ranked No. 31 in the nation in singles. Rosewell praised Recuenco’s performance against such tough competition.
“It was outstanding,” Rosewell said. “Actually, she made it to the finals of the ITA nationals so … Irene is quite capable. She’s had wins like that before but maybe not quite as big as this one though.”
The women fell to 11-5 overall and 2-3 in MIAA after their weekend stint out of state.
The men’s tennis team match against Missouri Valley was canceled March 29, so the Bearcats had time off during their busy schedule. Rosewell explained since the dual was canceled, he had the men recharge over the weekend.
“We’ve played a lot of matches, (and) they’ve been off and resting,” Rosewell said. “Unfortunately, the Oklahoma schools don’t have men’s tennis, so there's really nothing we can do when we go down there to play our conference schedule. It’s only women’s matches.”
The next match for the women will be April 5 when The Mark Rosewell Tennis Center dedication ceremony will take place. The ceremony is set for 1 p.m., and the match will be at 3 p.m. Rosewell’s namesake will serve as the new title of the tennis facility at Northwest.
The men’s team will get back to playing after over a week off with a tough conference match against Southwest Baptist April 6 at the Frank Grube Courts in Maryville.
Rosewell said, heading into the latter part of the season, he has told his team to keep up what they have been doing all season: playing well.
“The message will be to keep going and to play very well,” Rosewell said. “Both of those teams were top eight teams in the country last year. Our league is strong.”