Northwest men’s and women’s tennis completed a successful weekend of competitive tennis March 15-16 before diving into the conference schedule.
For the 35th time in 34 years, Northwest recorded a win against conference rival Missouri Western. Coach Mark Rosewell explained it never gets old beating the Griffons because of the rivalry.
“That’s a match people follow because of the rivalry,” Rosewell said. “That’s always a big match for us.”
With that dual against Western, the conference season is officially underway. The Bearcats played host to two talented regional and conference opponents March 16-17 at the Frank Grube Tennis Courts.
The women continued their hot streak beating Harding 4-3. Freshman Julia Aliseda won the deciding match for Northwest. Aliseda needed a third set to net the win over Harding's Allison Carpenter at No. 4 singles spot.
For the men, fortunes were reversed. The Bearcats dropped the dual 4-3 to the Bisons. Freshman No. 2 Fabien Calloud could pull off the three-set win against Harding's Arthur Belian. As a result, the Bisons took the dual.
“Both were extremely close matches,” Rosewell said. “They’re in Southern Arkansas, and they’ve been outside. We have had one day of practice outside and the second day we played. We’re not match tough outside, that’s what happened.”
Both Bearcat teams were able to take home 5-2 dual victories against MIAA rival Emporia State, which put Rosewell over 1,100 wins for his career. After the victory, the Northwest women have now won seven straight duals. Rosewell praised his team and explained they still have a lot of duals left on the schedule.
“I think, right now, they’re potentially the best team we’ve had in years,” Rosewell said. “They’re doing well, and the guy's team is doing OK. We play Washburn which are big matches. They beat us last year, men and women both. We’ve got some big ones coming up.”
Looking ahead, Northwest is tasked with Washburn, who traditionally has been a tough opponent for the Bearcats. Rosewell said he will know more about his team after the matches March 21.
“I think Washburn is going to tell us more because that’s one of the better teams,” Rosewell said.
Sophomore Franco Oliva was named the MIAA men's tennis athlete of the week for his weekend performance against Harding and Emporia State. The Argentina native went 2-0 at the No. 1 spot for the Bearcats and went 1-1 in doubles.
Oliva is ranked No. 4 in the ITA rankings and has recorded 19 wins early this season. In the fall, the 6-foot-2-inch sophomore finished third at the ITA Cup.
“He’s had a fabulous year,” Rosewell said. “He played No. 3 for us last year and was not a strong No. 3; he was about .500. Sometimes a little bit of experience around the league (can help). He had an outstanding ITA tournament and is ranked fourth in the country… but to play No. 1 and beat two very good players was a good sign.”