Missouri State’s go-to doubles partners have bonded on and off the court since far before the start of the 2019 season.
“We’ve known each other for years before even coming to Missouri State because of junior tennis,” Anna Alons said. “Being at Missouri State together grew our friendship even more.”
Alons is a freshman from Salix, Iowa. She was ranked 166th in her class nationally coming out of her senior season. Her doubles partner, sophomore Ellie Burger, went to high school in Chesterfield, Missouri, and finished her senior season ranked the No. 2 player in the state of Missouri and 235th in her class nationally.
Last season, Burger competed with a different doubles partner, junior Alye Darter. The two were successful throughout the season earning MVC doubles team of the week honors.
Head coach Mallory Weber decided to mix things up for the 2019 season.
“We had a lot of freshmen come in this year, so coach wanted to try different combinations for doubles,” Burger said. “From the first time we played together, we started playing really well and clicked as a doubles team. Our game styles really complement each other, and it’s been a really fun season playing with her.”
Their immediate success together can be attributed to their time spent playing together before arriving at MSU.
“We had played doubles together in juniors, which I think helped us get comfortable playing together in college, and we have improved and are improving from there,” Alons said.
Alons and Burger click off the court too. They both said they are very good friends, and they attribute some of their success to this relationship as well.
“Right off the bat, we were super comfortable with each other which results in good communication on the court,” Burger said. “We’ve always had a friendship, and now it’s grown even stronger since she came to Missouri State.”
Their relationship stems from a very close relationship with the entire tennis team. With only 10 women on the roster, they consider themselves much closer than other teams on campus.
“Since our team is smaller, we’re all super close,” Burger said. “We travel in a 15-passenger van, so we get to spend a lot of time together in close quarters, which definitely bonds us as a team.”
The team spends time together off the court too.
“We see each other so much during practice and training, but we also hang out and do things together a lot outside of tennis,” Alons said.
Burger and Alons think this friendship has led to better results as a team.
“Having good team chemistry results in good play on the court,” Burger said. “We all really want to win for one another.”
This positive team chemistry proved successful at last year’s Missouri Valley Conference Championships. The Bears took home the trophy after Burger fought to win at No. 5 singles to clinch the team title.
Burger and Alons are hoping to get to that level with their team again this season.
“We played some tough teams and did really well and are continuing to improve,” Alons said.
The team has two more matchups before the start of MVC championship play.
“I’m feeling really great about the season so far,” Burger said. “We had a pretty solid regular season, and we’ve started off really strong in conference play.”
Burger and Alons have received MVC doubles of the week honors three times so far this season.
“Anna and I fight really hard every single point,” Burger said. “We never get too high or too low, we just keep competing no matter what.”
Burger, Alons, and the rest of the tennis Bears travel to Oral Roberts on Wednesday, April 17.