Bradley tennis exits ITA Invitational early

The Bradley women’s tennis team showcased their youth and potential at the ITA Midwest regionals in Urbana, Illinois this past weekend.

Freshman Alexa Brandt and sophomores Ariel Dechter and Ashley Thai made the trip for the Braves, going 3-3 overall.

After receiving a first round bye in the Singles Qualifying Draw, Alexa Brandt defeated Michigan State’s Emily Myers 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(4) on Thursday. Brandt faced Notre Dame’s Allison Miller the next day, ultimately losing in the last set (6-4, 3-6, 3-6) in the Qualifying Draw round of 16.

“Alexa did phenomenal,” head coach Matt Tyler said. “It’s fun to be competitive with those teams. They’re some of the top teams in the nation and Alexa played right with them.”

Ariel Dechter was also in the Singles Qualifying Draw. Dechter was defeated by Detroit’s Valerya Kulikovskaya in Thursday’s first round 6-0, 7-5. But Dechter, the reigning Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, was able to bounce back quickly, defeating Youngstown State’s Annina Brendel 6-4, 7-5 in the back draw the same day.

Dechter picked up another win in Friday’s back draw, prevailing against Youngstown State’s Nehel Sahni 6-2, 6-3.

“Ariel played great, but I don’t think she played up to her potential,” Tyler said. “She was faced with a tough opponent and it’s hard to play all these matches week in and week out, but she’s a great player and I think she has another gear that she can hit.”

Brandt and Thai were Bradley’s representatives in the Doubles Main Draw. They were defeated in the first round by Aslina Chua and Catherine Parenteau of Michigan State 8-4.

“We played a great Michigan State team and we were right there,” Tyler said. “A couple of points and things might have gone our way. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with our performance.”

Tyler said that he liked the way his team stayed loose and enjoyed playing the game.

“We’re trying to have as much fun as we can on the tennis court,” Tyler said. “As long as we do that, results will follow.”

Going forward, the team is focused on staying consistent, which Tyler said is crucial to the team’s success.

“Consistency is a critical factor,” Tyler said. “We want to create unforced errors from our opponents and not the other way around.”

Bradley will wrap up ist fall schedule this weekend at the Drake Jamboree in Des Moines, Iowa. Once again, the Braves are excited to be playing against good competition.

“We’ll be up against some Big 10 teams, some Big 12 teams, along with the MVC competition,” Tyler said. “If we work hard and maintain that level of enjoyment we’ve been playing with, it’ll be a great tournament for us.”