TENNIS: Team struggling with SBC in sights

Jason Stamm

With just one match left, Western tennis is making its final strides toward the Sun Belt Conference Championships.

The Lady Toppers took a small step back on Friday, however, as they struggled early before falling to Belmont 5-2. Western was flat from the start, dropping the doubles point 3-0. In losing their doubles match the duo of Karina Ledaja and Ieva Balcus picked up its second loss on the season, dropping their record to 15-2.

“We didn’t play our best,” Balcus said. “We had a slow start and we just didn’t concentrate that well. It just didn’t work out this time.”

Western didn’t fare much better in singles action, chalking up victories in only two of their six matches. Ledaja battled for her 6-4, 4-6, 10-5 win at No. 1 that moved her to 16-1 on the season and extended her winning streak to 14 matches.

“We played OK, but we just didn’t have the strength top to bottom,” coach Jeff True said. “When Karina plays as tight as she did, that tells you that they’re a good team.”

Also picking up a win was freshman Laura Caffey at No. 6, winning 6-2, 6-2. With the win Caffey quietly bumps her record to 12-3 for the year.

“I just gave it all I had,” Caffey said. “I just tried to stay consistent throughout the match and let my opponent make the mistakes.”

Both men’s and women’s teams were rained out on Friday in their bout with Cumberland.

The men (7-11) will face off in their last matches of the regular season on Saturday when they travel to take on Indiana University-Southeast at 1 p.m.

“The guys have been inconsistent,” True said. “But right now, their confidence is strong.”

The Lady Toppers are also moving into the stretch run of the 2004 season as the Sun Belt Conference Tournament draws near. The ladies will also do battle with IU-Southeast on Saturday

“We’ve lost a lot of 4-3’s and that’s definitely hurt our confidence a little,” Ledaja said. “We’ve definitely improved a lot in just being teammates, but our game can always be better.”

Reach Jason Stamm at [email protected]