TAHLEQUAH — The winter months were rough on Amanda Stone’s tennis team. Sure the weather was frigid – and is just now starting to warm up – but eligibility and injuries were also thorns in the side of the RiverHawks.
“We’ve been two players down almost the whole season,” Stone said. “We beat Drury one player down. Houda Bellamine was injured during the match, and after that trip she was put in a boot for three weeks. With two players out, we had to scramble to find the right combinations and basically weather the storm.”
On top of that, NSU had to play a waiting game when it came to getting Valeriia Efimenko eligible to finally play during the 2014 campaign. She was finally able to clear all the red tape in early March.
“It made a big impact on the team to get Valeriia Efimenko eligible to play,” Stone said. “Even as a freshman she is able to fill a big role in our lineup. She is competitive at her line and provides much needed depth. We are finally able to set our doubles teams and start developing chemistry.”
Now, with Bellamine back on the court and Efimenko allowed to participate, the RiverHawks are within a victory of securing the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association regular season crown. The RiverHawks will take on Lindenwood Saturday in an attempt to secure the title.
“The opportunity to win NSU’s first MIAA championship is very exciting,” Stone said. “It has been one of our goals since August so being in the position to achieve it is a great accomplishment for the team.”
Being in position to claim the MIAA championship comes a year after the RiverHawks were climbing an uphill battle against Southwest Baptist during the 2013 season. The year, though, NSU knocked off Southwest Baptist, 5-4, during the regular season, setting the RiverHawks up for a league championship.