Rewriting history: Tennis finishes with best regular season in over 25 years

Freshman Malini Wijesinghe hits a backhand return in a match in April against Southern Illinois. Photo by Ann Schnabel.

Freshman Malini Wijesinghe hits a backhand return in a match in April against Southern Illinois. Photo by Ann Schnabel.

The Bradley women’s tennis team has had its share of ups and downs throughout the season: incredible victories and crushing defeats. This past weekend, the Braves split their matches between Drake and Northern Iowa.

Bradley fell to Drake to start the weekend and rounded it out with a win against Northern Iowa.

On Saturday, the Braves were defeated by the Bulldogs by a final score of 5-3.

However, junior Ariel Dechter set a school record with her second season recording 20+ plus wins.

“It shows the rest of the team what’s possible,” coach Matt Tyler said. “It allows us to free up and just play tennis. We don’t have the pressure on us that everybody feels like they have to win.”

With Dechter’s leadership and Tyler’s guidance, the Braves shook off Saturday’s loss and bounced back in a big way against Northern Iowa. It was Bradley’s first victory over UNI in their last 19 matchups.

The win was not only big for the players, but also for Tyler.

“From the beginning, we won the doubles point which, really set the tone,” Tyler said. “That was critical to come out strong. It gives you that positive momentum and belief that we’re going to win this.”

The women finished the regular season at 12-12, with a 3-4 record in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). Bradley hasn’t accomplished either of those feats since the 1992-1993 season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team and the way they came together and worked,” Tyler said. “Getting [twelve wins is a] huge accomplishment for the young ladies on our team.”

Tyler said he loves the direction the Braves are currently headed in. However, the team remains focused on the task at hand. They begin their postseason today in the MVC tournament against Illinois State.

Earlier in the season, the Braves faced off against ISU. The Redbirds emerged victorious, with a 5-2 defeat of the Braves April 2. This time, Tyler said he is doing his best to ensure history will not repeat itself.

“We are looking forward to playing them, and if we play them like we did this past Sunday against Northern Iowa, then we have a great chance of winning that one,” Tyler said. “There’s an opportunity for [us] to rewrite the regular season story.”

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