By BEN JOHNSON
Amanda Stone was a player the last time Northeastern State won a conference title in tennis. This time, she’s the coach.
Thanks to a 9-0 rout of Lindenwood on Saturday, No. 31 Northeastern State claimed no worse than a share of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association championship.
“I really wanted to get the first MIAA tennis championship for NSU. The last conference championship that we had was when I was a senior in 2007. That’s really special for me to be able to win one both as a player and now as a coach with my alma mater,” Stone said. “The girls knew that I won one as a player, and they wanted to make sure I got one as a coach as well. They were really pulling for it because they thought it would make a nice story.”
NSU improved to 18-4 overall and 9-1 in league play. Southwest Baptist also finished the regular season 9-1 in the MIAA, but the RiverHawks won a 5-4 decision against Southwest Baptist earlier this season to claim the tiebreaker.
The title is NSU’s first in the MIAA. The program’s three previous crowns were in the Lone Star Conference in 2001, 2003 and 2007.
NSU swept Lindenwood in convincing fashion in doubles play. Barbora Jirickova and Kristina Savchenkov won 8-2 at No. 1 doubles and the RiverHawks’ other two doubles teams won 8-4.
The RiverHawks followed that up with five straight-set victories in singles play. Lucia Cerchlanova needed a third set and a tiebreaker to win against Lindenwood’s Alexandra Medvedeva, 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-3).
“”We are thrilled to be able to win the first MIAA Championship at NSU. We’re happy to be the team that brought home that first title,” Stone said. “This is a huge step for the program. It’s only the fourth time for this program to win a conference championship. We’ve been competitive throughout the years at the national level, but I think this is a big step toward being the best in the conference.”
Next up for the RiverHawks is a home match with Arkansas-Fort Smith today at 2 p.m.