Tennis serves up strong showing at regional

Junior Malini Wijesinghe picked up an opening round win at the ITA Central Regional Championships. Photo via Scout Archives
Junior Malini Wijesinghe picked up an opening round win at the ITA Central Regional Championships.
Photo via Scout Archives

The Bradley tennis team wrapped up their fall action at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Central Region Championships in Lawerence, Kansas last Friday. Junior Malini Wijesinghe and freshman Sandra Malentin both notched individual victories for the Braves at the tournament.

Wijesinghe won her opening match against Nebraskas Emily Rees 6-2 and 6-3 on Thursday. Considering she entered the tournament as an alternate and was not originally slated to play for the Braves, Wijesinghe turned in a strong showing.

Bradley head coach Matt Tyler said Wijesinghes weekend performance was impressive.

Thats huge for her, Tyler said, The whole week we knew she was an alternate, but we tried to keep her in the competitive mind frame and she was able to slide in and get a tremendous win.

On Friday, Wijesinghe was eliminated in the round of 64 by Oklahomas Malene Strip.

Malentin was able to grind out a win in her match against Danielle Burich from Iowa 6-1, 2-6, 10-8 in the consolation round of 64.

[Malentin] had a great win over a tough player, Tyler said. She was able to win in the tiebreaker for the 3rd set. So that was a gritty performance from her.

The regional championships marked the last time the Braves will compete this year. They begin their spring season when the team takes on Southeast Missouri State Friday, Jan. 26 at the River City complex in Peoria.

According to Tyler, several players have done a great job of stepping up and filling the shoes of Ariel Dechter and Ashley Thai, who graduated. Despite missing their former captain, Tyler remains confident in his teams leadership.

Our upper classmen have moved into those [leadership] roles seamlessly, Tyler said. But we really stress leadership from everyone, regardless of your year in school. You lead through your actions and we expect no less from our freshman than from our senior class.

Tyler said he remains confident in his teams growth from the fall to the spring. After having their season ended in the Missouri Valley Conference semi finals in back-to-back seasons, the Braves will be looking to make a run at a conference championship beginning in the spring.