Following two straight wins over Prairie View A&M and Sam Houston State, the Bradley women’s tennis team gained some momentum heading into conference play, which starts April 2.
Sophomore Aimee Manfredo returned to play this week after recovering from a shoulder injury, and it took some time for her to get back in the groove of things. However, once she did, she took on a big part in helping the team win.
“In her first match in Texas against Lamar University, I felt that she played great but was still trying to get rhythm back,” head coach Matt Tyler said. “By the time she played Sam Houston State on Friday, I felt that she had regained her confidence and played an outstanding match.”
Manfredo said she got interested in playing tennis as a little kid when she was in the middle of swimming lessons.
“My dad saw there were tennis courts and people were playing tennis and said, ‘Oh, I think it’d be fun if we threw her in some tennis lessons,’” Manfredo said. “Then, I just really liked tennis and realized I enjoyed competing and the sport.”
Originally from Shoreham, New York, Manfredo had many opportunities to play at other schools, but she decided to take her talents to Peoria instead.
“I had a lot of schools from the East Coast that were looking at me,” Manfredo said. “But Bradley told me to come here and I saw that they were in the MVC conference, and I knew they were a competitive conference, which really drew me to this school.”
Manfredo has improved on her game since arriving on the Hilltop, setting the single season record for wins by a freshman last season and has strived to improve even more this year.
After dropping the first set in her match against SHSU’s Maddie Mortimore, Manfredo buckled down and figured out a way to get past her opponent.
“At the end of the first set, I calmed myself down and I finally realized [Mortimore’s] not hurting me, [Mortimore’s] just getting everything back,” said Manfredo. “In the second set, I started putting away my overheads, and I got a bunch of volleys, and executing all those points just made me win the games I needed.”
The come-from-behind win by Manfredo was the deciding match in what was a 3-3 tie to win the meet.
With conference play slowly approaching, a victory like that can boost the confidence for a player who has to find that extra gear to win a match.
Coach Tyler said having a player like Manfredo will be great down the stretch.
“[Manfredo] is a great competitor, and we know that she will always fight for every point,” Tyler said. “Especially going into conference play, it is great to have someone that you know is going to give you an opportunity to win.”