Ken Corbitt Capital-Journal
MIAA victory gives Sierra confidence
By Ken Corbitt
Fernando Sierra hit a bump in the road last week, but the Washburn tennis player feels he’s back on track.
Washburn was busy last week with four dual matches and Sierra went 2-2 in No. 1 singles, but a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Northwest Missouri State’s Jon Sanchez on Tuesday raised his record to 13-3 as the Ichabod senior sets his sights on defending his MIAA championship.
“I lost a couple of tight matches last week, but that’s good because I’d rather get it out of my system before the conference tournament,” Sierra said.
The Ichabods lost the dual to Northwest Missouri, 6-3. Rafael Valdez won No. 2 singles for Washburn, beating Mike Zarafaila 7-6, 6- 4, and Sierra and Valdez teamed to win No. 1 doubles.
The Lady Blues also lost to Northwest Missouri as the Bearcats pulled out a 5-4 victory by taking four of the six singles matches.
Sierra won No. 1 singles at the MIAA tournament last year, capping a 23-3 season in his first year at Washburn. The Monterrey, Mexico, native played at Kansas for two years, then sat out for two years before coming to Washburn.
“Everyone is shooting at me, but that’s good,” he said. “Those are the kind of matches I want. I don’t gain anything by winning easy, so I like the tough matches.
“We had a bunch of matches last week and I’m a little hurt right now; my legs are sore. I guess I’m getting old. Today, I felt good. My rhythm was right there where I want it to be.”
The 25-year-old Sierra finished last season ranked No. 12 in the nation and No. 2 in the Midwest Region.
“I think he came here from KU thinking every match was going to be easy, but every match at the No. 1 spot in Division II is tough,” Washburn coach Jennifer Hastert said. “He was playing the No. 3 spot at KU, but he’s found out there’s no easy matches on this level.
“He’s had a few injuries this year. He cramped up real bad at the Rolex Regional last fall and now he has a quad problem. He feels like his body is falling apart, but he’s been playing well for us.”
Tuesday’s loss dropped the Ichabods’ record to 5-16 overall and 1- 2 in MIAA duals. The conference tournament is April 18-20 in Springfield, Mo.
“It seems like one day the top three play really well and the bottom three don’t play that well, and the next time it’s the other way around,” Sierra said. “Hopefully, by conference, we’ll have everyone ready.”
The Lady Blues lost for the first time in four MIAA duals and are 13-9 overall. Washburn got singles victories from No. 3 Caitlin Day and No. 6 Kris Castillo. In doubles, Day-Castillo won the No. 2 match as did WU’s No.3 team of Holly Munro-Lindsay Sullivan.
Complete results in Scoreboard, 4-D
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