Cyclone tennis falls at Big 12 tournament

Mark Pawlak

The season that started slowly ended for the ISU women’s tennis team as they exited the Big 12 Tournament in the first round, falling to Nebraska, 4-1.

The Cyclones jumped to a 1-0 lead by winning the doubles portion of the contest.

The No. 1 team of junior Noortje Cornelissen and freshman Sabrina Evers defeated Leslie Harvey and Rose Keytmayura, 8-2. The No. 3 team of sophomores Kristin Gyaki and Tara Goedjen came up on top against Stacey Tomkiewicz and Ndali Ijomah, 8-5.

Nebraska won the match with victories in the No. 3, 4, 5 and 6 singles matches.

The No. 1 and 2 matches were not completed. At No. 1, Cornelissen was trailing in the second set after winning the first, 6-2, 5-6. At No. 2, Evers was headed into the third set tied against Katarina Balan, 6-4, 0-6.

Earlier in the year, Nebraska beat the Cyclones 6-1.

“Everybody did a lot better this time, but we’re all a little disappointed in how it finished,” Cornelissen said. “I think going in we had high expectations; it was our best chance to make the second round of the tournament.”

The season started out slowly for the team and Cornelissen.

The Cyclones let a couple of victories slip away in the beginning of the season, Cornelissen said.

At 1-7, the Cyclones changed directions going on a five-match winning streak, including the school’s first victory against Oklahoma.

“We turned it around really strong after spring break,” Cornelissen said.

Iowa State went on to pick up their first win against a nationally ranked team in some time by defeating Colorado.

Cornelissen cited the team’s mental toughness as being a factor in their ability to pick up victories in the latter half of the season.

The start of the season was challenging for Cornelissen as she was slowed by an injury. The injury kept her out of the No. 1 singles position that she had played in the previous two years. She moved back into the No. 1 position earlier this month and earned victories against Nebraska’s Leslie Harvey and Colorado’s Dominique Lemperie.

“Noortje is playing as well as she has played since she’s been here, and it affects the whole team,” head coach Michele Conlon previously said.

In doubles competition, Cornelissen and Evers finished the season at 11-7 and 6-6 in the Big 12 after winning their last four matches, including the tournament. They picked up a victory over nationally ranked Ashleigh Dolman and Maria Galoustova-Phillips from Oklahoma State.

The Cyclones return all eight players for next season.

Cornelissen sees having the same team for next year as a “strong point and advantage” over other teams.

“We’ll be working hard in the summer and fall,” she added. “We can only get better.”

As Cornelissen said after the Colorado victory: “Beware of the Cyclones.”