The Michigan State women’s tennis team entered a highly anticipated weekend of tennis ranked No. 37 in the nation with the school’s first 4-0 record in the Big Ten, placing them in the top three of the conference.
The team faced off against the No. 66 Fighting Illini of Illinois on Saturday and had another tough matchup on Sunday playing the No. 27 Northwestern Wildcats.
It was a very hard fought and dramatic two days of Big Ten tennis at the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility with Senior Day being on Sunday.
Head coach, Simone Jardim, and the Spartans came into Saturday trying to continue their six-game winning streak. The Illini were victim to another 4-3 comeback win by MSU that was capped off by senior, Catherine Parenteau, finishing the match in the third set.
“They [the team] erased that [the word lose] from their vocabulary,” Jardim joked after a tedious day of tennis.
“The last set I think I was losing 4-3 and I was really stressed when one thing came to mind: It’s my last year, I’m a senior…I need to leave everything on the court and give 100 percent,” Parenteau said.
Going into the last two matches of the day, Michigan State trailed 3-2 with fourth and fifth singles still competing. Athena Trouillot won her final set 6-4 and joined the rest of the team cheering on Parenteau battling her opponent on the last court.
“I knew we were down 3-2,” Trouillot said. “When you know you’re down 3-2 that’s just even more motivation…we knew from the beginning we were going to have to fight and that’s what we do.”
Saturday Box Score
Sunday started no differently than Saturday, by MSU losing their doubles point and putting themselves in a quick hole against a tough Northwestern team. Quickly falling to a 3-0 deficit after losing two singles matches, the team continued to fight as they have done all season.
The match was in favor of Northwestern (3-1) with three singles left fighting to maintain their undefeated conference record. Over four hours of tennis later, the Spartans were handed their first conference loss of the year.
“It’s a good thing that they took it [the loss] hard,” Jardim said. “I am very proud, we were in it in doubles and we were in it in singles… Northwestern is a very tough team and we took them to a four-hour match, this is not a setback, just a small bump in the road.”
Erin Faulkner was able to stay consistent and remain undefeated in her singles matches. Unfortunately for the seniors, the team was unable to secure one last win in East Lansing.
“We’ve been fighting really hard and we can’t get them all,” Faulkner said. “Today, we still fought and we made them earn it.”
“We just fight and we have good chemistry…we have each other’s back and we compete for everyone,” Parenteau said reassuringly.
Sunday Box Score
With the recent surge of the men’s basketball team, Jardim explains that her team has similar aspirations.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Coach Izzo, he’s somebody I definitely look up to…he’s the kind of guy that gets his team ready when it counts,” Jardim said. “That’s what our goal is…is to be ready for this last part [of the schedule], the final sprint of the season and focusing on one match at a time.”
Photo: Zachary Swiecicki/MSU Impact Sports