TENNIS: Sun Belt tourney begins next week

Jason Stamm

In convincing fashion, the Hilltopper tennis teams both put away IU Southeast on Saturday. It was their final regular season foe before the Sun Belt Conference Championships begin next week.

On the women’s side, Western got things going by winning the doubles point 2-1 on their way to a 6-1 victory. The Lady Toppers got victories from the duo of Karina Ledaja and Ieva Balcus at No. 1 and Olga Kosaka and Ilze Rozentale at No. 2. Kosaka and Balcus moved their record to 16-2 and gave the Lady Toppers their first doubles point in six matches.

“They played a slow tempo game and that really threw us off,” Balcus said. “We just calmed down, found our confidence and didn’t rush ourselves.”

The Lady Toppers didn’t cool off much in singles play either, taking five of the six matches. Chalking up wins for Western were Ledaja at No. 1, Kosaka at No. 2, Balcus at No. 3, Rozentale at No. 4 and Dana Underdonk at No. 5. Ledaja’s 6-3, 6-0 win raised her record to an impressive 17-1 for the season.

“I was most impressed with how we played at three, four and five,” coach Jeff True said. “We dropped the first set in all three so it was nice to see us come back and win those.”

The men picked up a much-needed win before heading into conference tournament action by beating IU Southeast 5-2. The Toppers dropped the doubles point 2-1 but rallied in singles to grab their first win in the month of April. Western’s lone doubles win came from the rackets of No. 1 pairing Mikkus Paipars and Stan Rabinovics.

“Stan and I were pretty consistent but overall the team didn’t come out that well,” Paipars said. “We knew what to expect from playing them earlier and we just kept our concentration.”

The Toppers got it going in singles competition, getting wins from Paipars at No. 1, Rabinovics at No. 2 and Franco Serra at No.3.

Reach Jason Stamm at [email protected]