Tennis Bears Ready for Mid-Week Matchup Versus Saint Louis

Missouri State (5-11) vs. Saint Louis (12-5)
Dates Wednesday, March 29, 12 p.m.
Location Springfield, Mo.
Site Cooper Tennis Complex (Outdoors)
Live Stats StatBroadcast
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Dual Details
The Missouri State women’s tennis team (5-11) takes a quick break from Missouri Valley Conference play Wednesday when it battles Saint Louis (12-5) at 12 p.m. The match will take place outside at Cooper Tennis Complex, and admission is free.

Baseline Knowledge

  • Overall, Sandra Lukacova holds the best record in singles with a ledger of 13-9, going 7-7 in duals and an impressive 6-2 in tournament play. Additionally, the sophomore has won three out-of-her last four completed matches.
  • Elsewhere in singles action, Silva Avakian carries a 10-13 mark on the seaon, going 4-8 in duals and 6-5 in tournaments, while Diana Cabrera maintains a 9-15 ledger, totaling 4-9 in duals and 5-6 in tournaments.
  • In doubles, the pair of Lukacova and Juliette Robinson have the best winning percentage on MSU, holding an overall record record of 9-9. The tandem has been consistent throughout the season, carrying a ledger of 6-6 in duals and 3-3 in tournaments. Meanwhile, the duo of Cabrera and Alyson Piskulic aren’t far behind and hold a total record of 11-12. In duals, the pair is 7-6 after recording a 4-6 mark in tournaments.
  • In the fall, Cabrera finished second in No. 1 singles at the 2022 MVC Individual Championships. The doubles pair of Avakian/Mary Houston grabbed fourth in No. 3 doubles, and Avakian also finished fifth in No. 6 singles. 
  • On the season, Missouri State players are 51-92 in singles matches and 26-37 in doubles contests. In duals, MSU holds a 30-54 singles record and a 17-22 ledger in doubles.
  • The Bears were picked eighth out of nine teams in the 2023 MVC Preseason Poll, receiving 22 points.

Dual Highlights

  • Last Saturday, Missouri State took on MVC preseason-favorite Belmont and came up short, 4-0. First-time doubles partners Mary Houston and Juliette Robinson accounted for MSU’s lone victory after a 6-4 win in flight two. The Bears were up a set in two-out-of-three remaining singles matches when the dual was called to an end.
  • MoState opened its MVC slate on March 18-19. For their first conference dual, the Bears dropped a hard-fought match to Bradley, 4-3. During the contest, MSU won the first four matches to give it an early 3-0 advantage over the Braves. However, Bradley rattled off four-straight singles victories to secure the dual, 4-3. The following day versus Illinois State, the Redbirds defeated the Bears, 6-1. Sandra Lukacova picked up the Bears’ only win in No. 5 singles.
  • March 10 saw MSU square off against Missouri Western State. The Bears earned six wins en route to a 5-1 victory. Robinson, Lukacova, and Diana Cabrera all won both their singles and doubles matches to give the Bears their first win in four matches. Due to their performance in this match as well as against Cowley College (March 11), Cabrera and Alyson Piskulic were awarded MVC Doubles Team of the Week, the conference announced on March 15.
  • During a three-dual span between Feb. 23-25, the Bears began the stretch with a victory against Southwest Baptist, 4-3, to close out its six-dual home stretch. MoState found itself with its back against the wall, down 3-2 against the Bearcats. The Bears came roaring back, winning the Nos. 4-5 singles matches to secure the dual. Piskulic (No. 5) took down SBU’s Polina Paunova, 6-4, 6-2, and Lukacova (No. 4) defeated SBU’s Lola Cincunegui, 6-3, 6-4, to complete the comeback. Two days following, Missouri State battled Arkansas and No. 18 Oklahoma. The Bears fell short in both duals against the power-five representatives. Over the span of both duals, Missouri State players faced four opponents ranked inside the ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings top 100, including three doubles teams and one singles player. 
  • Against Oral Roberts on Feb. 17, MoState fell behind 4-0 after the doubles point and first three singles points all ended in the Golden Eagles’ favor. However, the Bears showed fight and secured the remaining three matches to bring the score to 4-3. Mary Houston (No. 3), Lukacova (No. 4) and Piskulic (No. 5) all picked up wins in singles.
  • On Feb. 10 and Feb. 12, MSU followed up its first victories of the season by splitting two home duals. Against Kansas City (Feb. 10), Robinson (No. 3) and Avakian (No. 6) picked up wins in singles, however the Bears fell to the Roos, 4-2. Versus Central Arkansas (Feb. 12), Missouri State found itself down 3-1. However, the home Bears rattled off three straight victories in flights four through six to secure the dual, 4-3. The duo of Lukacova and Robinson earned a victory in No. 3 doubles, while Robinson (No. 3), Lukacova (No. 4), Piskulic (No. 5) and Avakian (No. 6) all secured wins in singles. Robinson’s performance in both duals resulted in her being named MVC Singles Player of the Week, the league announced on Feb.15.
  • Missouri State secured its first dual victory under first-year head coach Ellie Burger on Friday, Feb. 3, against Drury, 4-3. On the following day, the Bears followed up the DU victory with a win against Eastern Illinois, 5-2. MSU’s first victories of the season snapped a 21-dual losing streak dating back to 2021. 

Coach Ellie Burger

  • Before becoming head coach on June 1, Burger played tennis for the Bears from 2017-21 and was a three-time All-MVC performer. She ranks third in program history for career singles winning percentage (.782) with a 43-18 career record.  
  • Originally from Chesterfield, Mo., Burger captained the 2020-21 MoState tennis squad, leading the Bears to a 12-10 overall record and a runner-up finish in the MVC Tournament. She was also a key part of the 2018 MVC Tournament championship squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament under coach Mallory Weber.
  • Individually, Burger won a conference title in 2019 at No. 3 singles, becoming just the 13th Bear to win a singles flight in The Valley. She also earned All-MVC honors in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and was named as the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Female Student-Athlete of the Year by her fellow MSU student-athletes in 2020-21.

2023 MVC Preseason Poll

  1. Belmont (6)
  1. Illinois State
  1. UIC (3)
  1. Drake
  1. Murray State
  1. Valparaiso
  1. Bradley
  1. Missouri State
  1. UNI

Series History (based on information available)
Saint Louis leads the all-time series, 6-5. Last meeting: SLU 4, MSU 0 (March 24, 2022, in St. Louis, Mo.)

Looking Ahead
After the dual, Missouri State resumes MVC play with a pair of road duals this weekend. On Saturday, the Bears will battle Drake at 11 a.m. in Des Moines, Iowa. On Sunday, MoState will take on Northern Iowa at 10 a.m. in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

This article is provided by Missouri State
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