You didn’t need to be watching Claire Reifeis’ singles match or even glancing at the Dillon Tennis Center scoreboard to know how the Nebraska sophomore was doing against Iowa on Saturday.
All you had to do was listen.
Reifeis’ brief, but distinctive celebratory screams after unloading good, point-ending shots were a strong indication that the Husker was playing well. Her 6-3, 6-3 victory over Iowa’s Anastasia Reimchen at No. 3 singles, part of No. 46 Nebraska’s 4-0 women’s tennis triumph over the Hawkeyes, was the ultimate proof.
“Coach tells me I’m one of the loudest ones out there,” Reifeis said after improving to 16-5 overall this spring and 6-3 in Big Ten play.
“We try to keep everyone fired up out there, and in college tennis, that’s what you do.”
The Indianapolis native is well ahead of the pace she set as a freshman when she went 12-10 in the spring and 3-6 in the Big Ten playing anywhere from No. 1 through 3.
“I’m a lot fitter than last year,” said Reifeis, a top 60-ranked junior player nationally before coming to NU.
“I feel like I’m getting to a lot more balls and I’m able to stay in the rallies longer this season,” she added. “I think it’s made a big difference.”
Winning the doubles point made a big difference for the Huskers (16-6 overall, 5-4 in the Big Ten) on Saturday. In the deciding match, Katerina Matysova and Vasanti Shinde fought off a match point against them to edge the Hawkeyes’ Montana Crawford and Adrienne Jensen 7-6 at No. 3.
The Huskers’ Paula Del Cueto Castillo and Brianna Lashway posted a 6-2 win over Elise Van Heuvelen and Reimchen at No. 1.
The Huskers went up 2-0 when Jeannie Lozowski received a walkover at No. 6 singles when Jensen came up injured after the doubles. Seconds after Reifeis wrapped up her win, Del Cueto Castillo finished off her 6-2, 6-4 conquest over Adorabol Huckleby at No. 4 singles to clinch the dual.
The win keeps the Huskers on track toward a possible NCAA tournament bid, the first since 2013. NU closes out the regular season at home with two matches next weekend -- Wisconsin on Friday (5 p.m.) and Minnesota on Sunday (noon).
“If we can win these last two matches and do well in the conference tournament, we’ve got a chance (of going to the NCAAs). That’s our goal,” Reifeis said. “We have a lot of talent and a lot of fight on this team, so we’re capable of it.”