It hasn’t been a banner year for Bradley tennis.
The men’s team currently sits at 3-13, while the women’s team sit at 3-8. The men have lost nine of their last 10, while the women have faired a little better, sitting at 2-8 over that same stretch.
While much of the focus on college athletics is on winning, and in most cases that’s deserved, Bradley tennis could just be happy to be competitive.
Both programs lost their head coaches last July, and other problems since have struck. Men’s Coach Tim Gray identified injuries as one possible problem.
“We have essentially been playing without three of our top six players from last season,” he said. “Juan Cuadrado graduated, junior Ahmed Albitar is out for the year after undergoing wrist surgery in October and senior Arthur Romanet has been out with a nagging pectoral injury.”
The women’s team feels like they’re getting closer to gaining some momentum but is still missing something. Coach Matt Tyler said he believes the team is close to figuring out what.
“We’ve been on the cusp of beating these teams,” he said. “We lost to Eastern Illinois, a nationally ranked team, 4-3. We lost to Northern Illinois 5-2, so I think it’s one of those things where we’re close to getting over the hump.”
With both teams in a transition year, it’s easy to dismiss them with one glance at their records. But there are still some positives.
On the women’s side, freshman Ariel Dechter sits at 15-10. That’s just five wins shy of setting the single-season wins record, which would be a huge achievement for anyone, let alone a freshman. Tyler attributes her success to her mentality.
“She has a lot of naïveté, but in a good way,” Tyler said. “She’s faced a lot of good competition throughout her career, so she’s not daunted by her opponent. She just goes out and plays these teams and wins.”
Another record is in jeopardy on the men’s side. Senior Justin Abrams is six victories away from becoming the all-time leader at Bradley. Gray offered some advice to the senior as he nears the milestone.
“He just has to focus on process and not get caught up in wins. If he can stay in the present and work hard, he’ll break the record which would be a fantastic achievement for him,” said Gray.