Even if the results don’t always show it, Fort Hays State women’s tennis coach Brian Flax is seeing signs of progress from his Tigers as they continue a tough MIAA stretch.
A day after picking up its first win conference win, Fort Hays was overmatched by Washburn in an 8-1 loss Wednesday at the FHSU courts, but Flax found a couple bright spots.
The Tigers (6-5, 1-3 MIAA) picked up a win at No. 3 doubles, with Nicole Lubbers and Laura Jimenez-Lendinez defeating MaKenna Gonzales and Ally Burr, 8-3.
“The doubles have been kind of struggling as of late, but Nicole and Laura did a great job at No.3 doubles today,” Flax said. “And the other ones, even though the score wasn’t that close, they were really competitive.
“They’re playing at a higher level now than maybe they were two weeks ago. I think the better competition is starting to bring out the better things in us.”
In the other doubles contests, Natalie Lubbers and Ellea Ediger fell 8-2 to Alexis Czapinski and Logan Morrissey and Macy Moyers and Lauren Lindell took an 8-4 loss to Jaqueline Engelbrecht and Alysha Nowacki.
The Ichabods (7-2, 3-0) swept singles play, with Lindell the only Tiger to take a set. She fell 7-5, 5-7 and 10-4 (super tiebreaker) to Madison Lysaught.
Fort Hays was tasked with opening conference play against the top two teams in the region last week, taking 9-0 losses to Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State.
“They show you your weaknesses real quick,” Flax said. “Those teams can really point out what you need to work on. I’m glad that we’ve had kind of a hard schedule at first and hopefully our level will continue to rise.”
Flax said Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Emporia State, which was down two players, was a big step forward the Tigers.
"We obviously started out up 3-0 and the match got to 3-3 real quick, and we stayed in there in fought,” Flax said. “Natalie Lubbers at No. 2 singles and Macy Moyers at No. 3, they got down their first set and came back and hung tough. I think their conditioning really won out against the other two girls and kind of wore them down.”
FHSU won’t be back in action until next weekend, playing road matches against Northwest Missouri and Missouri Western.
Flax said the Tigers’ goal is to earn a spot in the MIAA Tournament, April 20 to 22 in Lincoln, Neb.
“We want to keep improving; we did that last year when we had a lot of freshmen in the starting lineup,” Flax said. “We want to make the tournament. It’s been a few years since we’ve made it. “(Tuesday) was a huge step and probably just put us one more win away from getting in, with some matches coming up that are going to be huge. Right now, that’s our No. 1 goal. We’re just going to take small steps with this group and try to get to play up in Lincoln.”