Tied at 3-3, the 2022 Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Tennis Championship came down to the decision on court No. 6 and it was ISU’s Elena Jankulovska who pulled out a thrilling three-set win to clinch the match and the MVC Championship title for the Redbirds on Sunday afternoon at the Roger Knapp Tennis Center in Des Moines.
“It’s hard to find words after a win like this,” ISU head coach Maja Kovacek said. “The match went back and forth and it couldn’t have been closer in the end. This was the ultimate team win and I couldn’t be more proud of all of our players. There was so much determination and fight in them since the beginning of the tournament and I’m just so happy to see their hard work pay off in the best way possible. “
Drake took the early advantage by winning the doubles point, with wins at No. 1 and No. 2. They then picked up a singles win at No. 2 to take a 2-0 lead early in the match. However, the Redbirds would rally to win three straight singles matches to take a 3-2 lead.
Maria Potsi scored the first point of the match for the Redbirds, as she rolled to a 6-2, 6-3 win over Daria Walczak at the No. 3 spot to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 2-1. Penelope Abreu tied the match at 2-2, with her three-set victory over Darinka Stepan at No. 5 by a score of 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. The Redbirds then took the lead, as Tijana Zlatanovic defeated Liza Petushkova in three sets 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 to make the score 3-2 in favor of ISU.
A win at No. 4 by the Bulldogs tied the match at 3-3, leaving the decision to court No. 6. Drake’s Kelsey Neville took the first set 7-5, but Jankulovska battled back to take set two in a tiebreaker 9- 7 leaving the match and the championship to the third and final set. Neville jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but Jankulovska battled back to tie it at 4-4. Neville then took the lead again at 5-4, before Jankulovska ripped off three straight games to win the third and deciding set 7-5 to clinch the match and the tournament title for the Redbirds.
The Redbirds will now wait to see where they will be playing in the NCAA Tournament, when the selection show airs on May 2 at 5:30 pm CT on NCAA.com.
Final Results: No. 2 Illinois State (4), No. 1 Drake (3)
1. Tijana Zlatanovic (ILS) def. Liza Petushkova (DU) 6-2, 1-6, 7-5
2. Ines Stephani (DU) def. Alexandra Abyasova (ILS) 6-4, 6-1
3. Maria Potsi (ILS) def. Daria Walczak (DU) 6-2, 6-3
4. Thousand Haagensen (DU) def. Tara Damnjanovic (ILS) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
5. Penelope Abreu (ILS) def. Darinka Stepan (DU) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
6. Elena Jankulovska (ILS) def. Kelsey Neville (DU) 5-7, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5
1. Liza Petushkova / Daria Walczak (DU) def. Tijana Zlatanovic/Tara Damnjanovic (ILS) 6-4
2. Ines Stephani / Rebecca Ehn (DU) def. Penelope Abreu/Maria Potsi (ILS) 6-3
3. Alexandra Abyasova/Laura Fitzgerald (ILS) vs. Mille Haagensen / Darinka Stepan (DU) 5-4 unfinished
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