CEDAR FALLS — The Northern Iowa women’s tennis team has a big weekend at home beginning Friday when the Panthers host the 2019 Missouri Valley Conference individual tennis championships at the Byrnes Park Tennis Center in Waterloo.
UNI is coming off an up-and-down performance at the Bluejay Invitational in Omaha, highlighted by a third-place finish in singles by Madeline Doherty and fourth-place finishes by Olivia Fain and Emma Carr.
Head coach Chris Sagers said his team has had three great weekends of competition and his team is ready to test the rest of the Valley.
“Want to see stronger doubles play, need to be aggressive, and with singles, our mental game,” Sagers said. “Our conference is pretty strong.”
In addition to UNI, Bradley, Drake, Illinois State, Missouri State, Valparaiso, and Stony Brook will field teams. The championships is a three-day event and will use 14 courts at Byrnes.
There will be seven singles brackets and three doubles brackets.
The action begins at 9 a.m. Friday.
“Illinois State won the team title last spring, and Stony Brook out of Long Island, N.Y. they are always strong,” Sagers added if there was a favorite. “Everyone is good. Missouri State won it a couple of years ago. Bradley is always tough. Drake has traditionally been good. We were runner-up a couple of years ago. It is really open and it is all-new ... we expect everyone to be solid.”
CROSS COUNTRY: Head coach Dave Paulsen was pleased with how his team performed at the Griak Invitational over the weekend, where Wal Kaht for the men, and McKayla Cole for the women, ran the fastest races.
Now with three weeks until the Panthers next competition, Paulsen hopes to get his team healthy.
Cole ran for the first time Saturday after missing the early portion of the schedule because of illness, and Saturday, Gabby Champion, typically UNI’s No. 1 or No. 2 runner was out.
On the men’s side, C.J. May, who has traded off being the No. 1 runner with Khat, was held out because of an ailment.
“Battling just to get everyone to the line and feeling healthy at the same time,” Paulsen said.
With so much time before the team runs again, Paulsen said he will push the squad to improve.
“Looking to make some big progress ... try to make strides and get our runners a little closer together in our pack,” Paulsen said. “We will give them some race simulation type work as we head into the next weeks, got some workouts set aside that they know are coming and are geared up for.”
WOMEN’S SOCCER: It was a rough week of play for the Panthers who opened with a loss to Western Illinois and then were shutout, 5-0, at home Sunday.
Coach Bruce Erickson said the team didn’t play poorly, but the results are certainly disappointing.
“To concede five is disappointing,” Erickson said. “We are just giving up too many goals and that is a little bit of mentality. That is something we are going to correct.”
UNI hits the road this Saturday at Loyola in an MVC game. The Panthers were 3-0 in conference road games last season.