Bunyawi Thamchaiwat gave a knowing smile to the crowd at the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center.
No. 16 Oklahoma State women’s tennis team was taking care of business against regional rival Arkansas on Friday night in what would become a 6-1 victory.
She had just lost her first game all night. She did not seem bothered by the situation. Thamchaiwat promptly completed the next game, winning the match 6-0, 6-1 against Martina Zerulo for the Cowgirls second point.
In the performance, the Cowgirls would attempt a different strategy. Thamchaiwat was on Court 1.
Oklahoma State (6-1) benefitted from the change. A few games into her singles match, Thamchaiwat was in control. Zerulo, an Arkansas (2-2) junior, offered little resistance.
A few unforced errors gave the crowd energy in the second set. Thamchaiwat was closing in on a perfect game. Then Zerulo delivered her lone winning game.
“It’s different because I played against the girl I lost (to) last year,” Thamchaiwat said. “I feel like I’m not scared of her. I got this. I wanted to beat her so bad, and I (beat) her 6-0, 6-1. I feel (like) I improved a lot from last year.”
The match was the first time Thamchaiwat had played on Court 1 this season. She delivered her most convincing win in the process. Cowgirl coach Chris Young took note of Thamchaiwat’s success.
“I think that we are going to be able to move those girls around,” Young said. “I think you’re going to see one and two switch out a lot throughout the season. It’s just rewarding Bunyawi for how well she is playing right now, and giving her a chance to play some at one. I think she deserves it.”
While Thamchaiwat was leading her match, Lisa Marie Rioux was having a good game of her own. On Court 2, Rioux took control of her match as quickly as Thamchaiwat on Court 1. The result proved to be the same.
Rioux managed to sweep the first set of her match against Arkansas junior Tatum Rice before playing a close second set to win 6-0, 7-5. The win was the fifth for the Cowgirls, who played the remaining games against the Razorbacks when they didn’t have to, despite having a match less than a day later.
“I just realized that when I was down 5-3, that I just have to make one more ball,” Rioux said. “That’s the only thing (that) I have to do. I did that and it worked out. Then I built back confidence and I just went through it.”