Tennis rallies in double header

Senior Ariel Dechter serves in a home match earlier this season. photo by Justin Limoges
Senior Ariel Dechter serves in a home match earlier this season. photo by Justin Limoges
Senior Ariel Dechter serves in a home match earlier this season.
photo by Justin Limoges

The women’s tennis team continued its hot streak last Saturday by picking up two victories in a double header against Wright State and Butler. The two wins pushed Bradley’s win streak up to four games as the Braves now sit at 6-3 heading into their third week of their home stand.

The Braves rallied back in the singles competition against Wright State after failing to collect the doubles point. The team won five of its six singles matches to claim the victory. Senior Ariel Dechter, freshman Natalie Barbery, junior Alexa Brandt, junior Aimee Manfredo and sophomore Malini Wijesinghe each recorded a point for the Braves.

Brandt fought back in the third set to win 6-0, 1-6 and 7-5. The third set victory came after Brandt battled back from a 4-1 deficit.

“I just kept fighting,” Brandt said, “She was a great player … I was thinking that even if I lose this match, just try and enjoy the moment and just keep fighting one point at a time.”

Dechter and Manfredo each also claimed a point after going three sets with Wright State. Head coach Matt Tyler said he was impressed with the team’s resilient performance.

“To win five of the six singles matches is a tough thing to do,” Tyler said. “But the girls came out and worked hard and came away with a fantastic win.”

In the second match of the afternoon, the Braves collected the doubles point right away after the teams of Dechter/Manfredo and Barbery/Thai won 7-5 and 6-0, respectively.

Unfortunately, the win came with a price. Barbery injured herself in the doubles match and was unable to compete in singles play, leaving sophomore Julie Martin to take her place. Martin shined, defeating Butler’s Carla O’Byrne 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.

“During the first set, I was a little tight,” Martin said. “[I wasn’t] really hitting through my strokes, but the second set worked a lot better for me … I had to think aggressively but still [put] lots of topspin high over the net.”

The win was just what the Braves needed, giving Bradley a crucial point after Dechter and junior Alejandra de Lasa were unable to come up with singles victories. Tyler said he admires Martin’s ability to be ready in an unexpected situation.

“She stepped in, last-second situation with Barbery getting injured in the doubles,” Tyler said. “For her to step in there and come up with a win was really big for us. I have to give her a lot of credit.”

With big-time performances from unexpected players, Tyler said the team is building trust while continually developing.

“We’re winning at different positions every time, which is very good,” Tyler said. “When girls have an off day … We know that the rest of the team is there to pick us up.”

The Braves will be looking to pick up right where they left off tomorrow and Sunday when they take on DePaul and Valparaiso at the River City Club Courts to build on the current four game win streak.