November 29, 2020

Tennis teams continue record-breaking season

Behind several consistent players, Webster University’s men’s and women’s tennis teams are looking to secure their place in Webster history.
The women are aiming for their second straight St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship. The men, building on last year’s winning season, their first in nearly 10 years, are attempting to capture their first-ever SLIAC championship. The women are currently tied for the SLIAC lead, while the men are just one game behind first-place Westminster College.
“I recruited better and the kids are staying longer,” said Michael Siener, who coaches both tennis teams. “We also got a little lucky in recruiting, and there is a real stability now.”
Siener, who is in his sixth year of coaching at Webster, said there are several reasons for the success of the two squads.
“Both teams are loaded with gifted athletes who push themselves,” Siener said. “These players are competitive and work so hard.”
After losing their opening match to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the women’s team won nine straight matches before Division II Quincy University handed the Gorloks their second loss, 8-1, on April 10.
Sophomore Lindsey Hays came away with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Quincy. Hays has won 18 straight matches, a Webster University women’s tennis record.
“Lindsey is a fierce competitor,” Siener said. “She raises the level of play when the competition gets better. It’s good when she plays somebody feisty like she did against Quincy.”
Siener said that when Hays is focused, she is difficult to beat. Hays said she recorded Webster’s only victory over Quincy by letting her opponent make the mistakes.
“I wanted to take control of the match, which I was able to do,” Hays said. “A lot of my points came from my opponent getting upset, and I was able to keep on-point.”
Junior Allison Tungate is another record-holder. She is now the all-time Webster women’s tennis leader with 36 career wins. Senior Hannah Wojahn is right behind Tungate with 35 wins.
Junior Kate Coen won 15 straight matches this season in singles and doubles play before losing a doubles match at Greenville College on April 8.
“Kate Coen was very limited in playing last year, but this year, she has won nine straight matches at the No. 5 spot,” Siener said.
Siener said the women deserve the credit for the success they have had this season.
“I was going to start the girls later in the season, but they came in over a month early and started working out on their own,” Siener said.
Meanwhile, the Webster men have played a difficult schedule, although Siener said playing better teams early will make his team more competitive down the stretch. The squad lost tough matches against UMSL, McKendree University and Quincy.
“Our players want to play the best,” Siener said. “When you lose against tough teams, you find out about yourself, and it can make you better.”
Siener said his top six men’s players are close in ability, making Webster very difficult to match up against.
“Our top six men, before it is all said and done, will be among Webster’s all-time leaders in terms of total wins,” Siener said. “We are deeper than ever before in regards to talent.”
Sophomore Diego Alarcon (11 wins), sophomore Agustin Villalba (9 wins) and junior Ryan Fassler (8 wins) lead the Gorloks. Alarcon and Fassler were All-Conference first team selections in 2010. Fassler is Webster’s all-time career leader in singles wins with 25.
Villalba was named the SLIAC men’s tennis player of the week for April 4 through 10. He posted a 3-0 singles record and a 3-1 record in doubles. He rallied back from a 6-7 loss in the first set versus Greenville College to win 6-4, 7-5 in the second and third sets. He also posted a 6-3, 6-1 singles win against Quincy.
“We are getting a little better all the time,” Villalba said. “Even in our losses, we played well, losing some very close games.”
Villalba said he is playing much better now because he is relaxed and focused.
“I was really nervous before — I think I put too much pressure on myself,” Villalba said. “I realized all I had to do is hit the ball and just play.”
Both the men and women compete in the SLIAC individual championships on April 15 and 16.
“I was a bit nervous coming into the season,” Siener said. “But both teams have answered the bell thus far.”

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