A highly successful weekend took place for Illinois State University Women's Tennis over in Waterloo, Iowa, during the Missouri Valley Conference Individual Championship.

The tournament began on Friday, and multiple women got off to hot starts. While junior Natalia Bravo, senior Laura Arciniegas and junior Ivon Mihaleva received a bye for the first day, stellar performances were handed out by sophomore Tara Damnjanovic and junior Laura Fitzgerald in singles play. Both making quick work of their first-day opponents, Damnjanovic defeated Missouri State’s Alye Darter 6-2, 6-7(4-1), 6-1 in the first flight, while Fitzgerald took down Northern Iowa’s Thaissa Moreira 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in the fourth flight.

In response to her play on Friday, and looking ahead to the weekend, Damnjanovic had this to say, “I see every match as an opportunity to improve my mental and physical game and both of my matches were tough today.”

Moving along to day two of the MVC Individual Championship, the three women who received a bye on Friday proved why they received that bye on Saturday. Bravo was able to take down Maria Tatarnikova from Drake 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the third flight. Continuing the success, both Arciniegas and Mihaleva rounded out the day with respectable wins in their singles bouts. Although the ’Birds went 3-4 on the Saturday, they had multiple women looking to place top three on Sunday.

“We had another strong showing in singles and in a few matches that didn’t go our way, we played well and were competitive,” head coach Maja Kovacek said.

The Redbirds went into day three having several opportunities at first place, although only one woman would take the championship in her flight. That woman went on to be Mihaleva, who ousted Missouri State’s Alyson Piskulic 7-5, 6-2.

“I am very happy to have won the number six singles flight today. The first set was close and being able to win that gave me confidence for the rest of the match,” Mihaleva said.

While no one else from ISU could claim a championship, many of Mihaleva’s teammates finished within the top three of their brackets. Bravo and Arciniegas both took second place, while Elena Jankulovska secured third place in the seventh flight.

“We were very competitive in all four finals matches and I’m really proud of Ivon for coming away with a win,” Kovacek said.

The ’Birds will play next at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17 at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for the ITA Regionals.

JAKE FOGAL is a Sports Reporter for The Vidette. He can be contacted at vidette_jpfogal@ilstu.edu Follow him on Twitter at @285ordie

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