UNI falls to Drake in season finale



Andrijana Brkic was the lone Panther to pick up a victory in the season ending loss to Drake.

CADEN SHEA, Sports Editor

The Panthers concluded the 2023 tennis season with a loss to their in-state rivals, the Drake Bulldogs. The Panthers were celebrating Senior Day to honor their only senior, Thaissa Moreira. UNI was only victorious in one of their seven matchups on Saturday against the Bulldogs. 

The day would start with doubles action as the team of Andrijana Brkic and Kim Zizek took on Drake’s Millie Haagensen and Darinka Stephan. Brkic and Zizek were shutout by their opponents as they fell 6-0. Moreira and Issa Sullivan stepped up to take on Elizabete Klavinska and Jyun-Yi Lee. Drake was victorious with a 6-4 victory over the Panthers. Darta Dalecka and Kanyanut Sudsaard were the final team representing UNI in the doubles category as they took on the team of Ines Stephani and Oriana Parkins-Godwin from Drake. The Panthers put up a good fight but were ultimately bested by their competition 6-4. 

Sudsaard was up first for the Panthers in singles action as she faced Parkins-Godwin. Sudsaard was shut out in consecutive rounds as her opponent had the upper hand for the majority of the contest. Sullivan faced Drake’s Rebecca Ehn in the next match of the day. Sullivan could not get it done for the Panthers as she lost in straight sets, 6-3 and 6-1. Zizek was up next for the Panthers as she went up against Klavinska from Drake. Zizek lost the first set 6-2 and retired the second set after being down 5-0 late in the action. 

The fourth singles matchup of the day would see Moreira in her final match of her UNI career as she took on Stephan who was representing the Bulldogs. Moreira did all she could to be victorious in her last match as a Panther but Stephan proved to be too much for her. Moreira dropped the last two sets of her career, 6-3 and 6-4. UNI’s Dalecka and Drake’s Haagensen took the court next as they engaged in a heated battle. Dalecka lost the first set 6-2 but attempted to mount a comeback in the second. She was ultimately unsuccessful as she fell 7-5. The last matchup of the day saw the Panthers get their only victory as Brkic defeated Stefani. Brkic lost the first set 7-6 but rebounded and won the second 7-6 in her favor. She won a 10 point tiebreaker to seal the match and win the lone point for her team. 

The loss ends UNI’s 2022-2023 tennis season. The Panthers compiled a record of 5-15-1 on the season, including a 1-7 mark in Missouri Valley Conference. With only one senior graduating, the Panthers will look to come back next year with a strong, more experienced team.