Big 12 Conference champions.
This is a title that has never been associated with Texas Tech women’s tennis program. However, this is exactly what the No. 19 Lady Raiders were called Sunday.
With a 6-1 win against Missouri on Friday and a 5-2 win against Iowa State on Sunday, Tech clinched at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title.
It wasn’t until later in the day that the Lady Raiders became the outright champions, as No. 51 Oklahoma State shocked the No. 6 Longhorns 4-3 to drop Texas to second place in the conference.
This achievement comes as no surprise because of the effort this team has put in throughout the season, Tech head coach Todd Petty said.
“These girls have put in the time,” he said in a news release. “This is not a fluke. We started this out two years ago when this group of juniors came in, and this is something that they had hoped to accomplish, and they did it.”
In their first match of the weekend, the Lady Raiders cruised to a 6-1 victory against No. 44 Missouri on Friday.
With a Big 12 regular season on the line, Petty said he was elated with the team’s play against Missouri.
“I could not be happier about our performance tonight,” he said in a news release. “I thought we played really well. I think the girls responded well knowing what was on the line.”
The night started off well for the Lady Raiders, as they cruised through the doubles play sweeping Missouri in the three doubles matches to take an early 1-0 lead.
The hot start continued for Tech by continuing to dominate in singles play.
None of the first five singles matches even went to a third set, as Tech put the match away early with a win in each. In fact, the closest any Missouri player even got to Tech in the first five singles matches was 6-4, and that only happened in three out of the 10 sets.
It wasn’t until only one match was left in progress that Missouri won its only point of the night.
After two sets going to each, Missouri’s Maria Christensen defeated Tech’s Samantha Adams 10-3 in a super tiebreaker to make the final team score 6-1.
With the win in the books, Tech knew it now had a chance to clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title Sunday.
“We are one step closer to making history for these girls,” Petty said in a news release after Friday’s match. “You always say, ‘we are just looking one match ahead,’ well this is the last one. We have gotten to the end of the road and it has gotten us to a great place.”
Then the Lady Raiders did what the set out to do all season Sunday — make history.
It didn’t take a strong effort on Tech’s part to pick up the Big 12 regular season crown defeating Iowa State 5-2, but the solid performance by Oklahoma State to upset Texas gave the Lady Raiders sole possession of first place.
Just like Friday, Tech got out to a fast start by sweeping the doubles matches to pick up the quick 1-0 lead.
Kenna Kilgo, Samantha Adams and Caroline Starck then made quick work of their matches with each only letting their opponent win three games against them. The point picked up by each gave Tech a combined four points to secure the victory for the Lady Raiders, and — at that time — at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title.
After the match, Starck — who won her doubles match with Nikki Sanders 8-3, and her singles match 6-1, 6-2 — said she couldn’t believe what the team had just accomplished.
“This feels unreal,” she said in a news release. “We have all been waiting for this moment — try not to look ahead and take it one match at a time. We are finally here. We finally did it. I do not have any words to describe this. It is unbelievable.”
The Lady Raiders did drop two of the last three matches after that, but Tech still easily had the upper hand wining 5-2.
It was then that all eyes shifted to Stillwater, Okla., to the match between No. 6 Texas and No. 51 Oklahoma State with Texas needing to win to take its place beside Tech as the regular season Big 12 co-champions.
However, the highly ranked Longhorns got off to a slow start losing the doubles point to go into an early 1-0 hole. But Texas came roaring back, picking up the first three doubles points forcing OSU to have to win the remaining three points to pick up the win.
This is exactly what OSU did though. After the Cowgirls came back to win the next two points to tie the game at three, it all came down to the No. 2 singles point between OSU’s Malika Rose and Texas’ No. 30 Aeriel Ellis.
After Rose won the first set, Ellis came right back to win the next to bring the match to a final third set to determine which school would win.
Rose didn’t seem to be the underdog in the match at all, as she made quick work of Ellis in the third set, winning 6-2.
This loss gave the Longhorns their second loss in Big 12 play, meaning it would be the Lady Raiders taking home the Big 12 trophy home all by themselves.
Tech will now have the No. 1 seed heading into the Big 12 tournament, which will begin Friday in College Station.