The University of Central Arkansas tennis team wrapped up their fall season in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the Tulsa Invitational from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3. The Bears, host school Tulsa, Wichita State University, and Houston University were the four participating schools throughout the weekend. 

Sophomore Chunxi Xin got the first win of the weekend for UCA in singles action on Nov. 1 as she beat Wichita State senior Sarvinoz Saidhujaeva 7-6 (2), 6-1. Freshman Maja Gledic would come back from an early 6-1 set loss to beat Wichita State junior Lingwei Kong 6-3, 7-5.

Xin’s winning ways continued the next day as she beat Tulsa senior Martina Okalova in three sets, coming back from behind and winning the last two 7-6 and 7-3. Fellow sophomore Fuka Nonoyama would come back to win her singles match as well against Tulsa senior Vera Ploner 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. 

In other doubles matches from Nov. 1, sophomore Mei Ishimura and junior Yada Vasupongchai would come away victorious in their match against Tulsa duo Shura Poppe and Marina Davtyan after their one set victory, 6-3. 

On Nov. 2, Xin and Nonoyama would pick up their first win in doubles of the weekend as they beat Wichita State’s Kong and senior Marta Bellucco 6-3. Ishimura and Vasupongchai’s success continued as well as they beat Wichita State’s Saidhujaeva and freshman Natsumi Kurahashi 6-0. They would later pick up a doubles win against Houston’s double pairing of freshman Azul Pedemonti and junior Ndindi Ndunda 6-1.

On Nov. 3, Ishimura was the only UCA player who would walk away with a singles victory as she beat Houston sophomore Stephanie Belovukovic 6-3, 6-2. Xin, Gledic and Nonoyama would all fight hard but lose close matches as all three of their matches went to three sets. 

Head coach Casey Wharton was extremely pleased with how the team had performed, both at the Tulsa tournament and the rest of the fall as well. 

“Just being invited to this type of tournament is a positive,” Wharton said. “It just shows we’re competitive with top level teams.” He felt this was their best fall the team has ever had, and the graduating seniors from the previous season have played a big part in leaving a legacy for the new players to follow-up.  

Nonoyama, who finished the weekend with a thrilling singles win, was very satisfied with both her own performance and the team’s.

“I didn’t give up, and I kept going. I got so emotional but I kept going,” Nonoyama said. “All of the team is getting better, I’m so excited for next season.”

Along with the hard work put in by the team, Wharton added on a humorous note that, “the secret to our success is bubble tea.” 

With the fall tournaments out of the way, the focus now turns to the winter season and Southland Conference play. UCA looks to defend their title after beating Sam Houston State 4-2 in the conference tournament.  

The team will have the rest of the year off from tournaments, as their next meet won’t be until January in Stillwater, Oklahoma, against Oklahoma State and Oral Roberts Universities on January 12. 

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