For the better part of four decades, Missouri Western’s rivalry on the tennis court with Northwest Missouri State was largely only due to proximity.
But the Griffons made a statement Wednesday, knocking off the Bearcats 6-1 at the Genesis Indoor Courts.
It’s the first time Missouri Western has beaten Northwest since 1985, just the second year Mark Rosewell took over the program in Maryville, Missouri.
After years of coming up short, the Griffons left Wednesday glowing.
“Hopefully give them a little bit of a scare because I know Missouri Western’s never beat Northwest,” said sophomore Anya Chavez, the Griffons’ No. 1 singles player from Regina, Canada. “It’s a deep goal for us to win, to beat Northwest, just scare them a little bit, make them think they’re not gonna overpower us anymore and we’re gonna make a statement, and we’re better than ever. “
The Griffons did just that. Chavez and Isabella MacGibbon defeated Alexandra Dodashev and Carolina DeOliveira in the No. 1 doubles, 6-0, and Ioanna Lathouri and Anais Peralta Criado defeated Sofia Pignataro and Julia Aliseda at No. 3 doubles, 6-3.
Northwest did capture a victory at No. 2 doubles, though the lone point went to the Griffons for winning two matches.
“This team is really good. I knew the match was gonna be intense and spicy,” said Criado, a sophomore from Sevilla, Spain, in her first semester with the Griffons. “We are doing really well, so let’s see.”
First-year head coach Alejandro De La Torre saw his team carry momentum into singles. Criado overcame a 4-1 deficit in the first set to defeat Aliseda 6-4, 6-3, at the No. 3 spot to put Western (12-2, 3-0 MIAA) ahead 2-0.
“I played really good,” Criado said. “My match was hard, she played really good. I feel really confident, and coach helped me a lot. It was nice to get the win. “
Chavez gave the Griffons a 3-0 lead after winning at No. 1 singles. She won the first set against Alenicheva 6-4 before falling behind 5-1 in the second set. She rallied back to win 7-6 (7-3) after a tiebreak.
“Today, it was a really happy match. I wanted to be steady, for her to know she’s not gonna win any free points off me and make her work for it, ”Chavez said. “Winning that first set was a relief, but it wasn’t over. I just made sure to focus on every point. “
Pegnataro defeated MacGibbon 6-1, 6-0 at No. 4 singles to give Northwest (10-5, 2-1) life.
All the while, Missouri Western’s Esther Guemes and Northwest’s Tyffaine Pais were in a lengthy dual at No. 2 singles. Guemes opened with a 7-5 first set win before Pais earned a 7-6 (11-9) win to force a third set, pushing the match past the three-hour mark with both girls fatigued.
Guemes ultimately prevailed with a 6-1 win in the third set to clinch the match for the Griffons.
Lathouri won at No. 5 singles (0-6, 7-5, 6-3) and Iglesias added a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 6 singles for the final 6-1 result.
“I think every match we play we get more confidence. With every doubles win, with every singles win, it builds up because we’ve been working for this since the fall season to get to where we are today, ”Chavez said. “It just builds confidence. We’re gonna be the gritty team. “
Western is the lone 3-0 team in the MIAA and will host No. 4-ranked Central Oklahoma next Saturday.