Women’s tennis preps for conference play with rival Redbirds on deck

Everyone’s heard the phrase “April showers bring May flowers.”

April might also bring the Bradley women’s tennis team a conference title. This weekend the Braves will face off against conference rival Illinois State University to kick off Missouri Valley Conference play.

From the outside, it looks like the Braves have experienced an up-and-down 2016 season. However, their overall record of 9-8 is the best non-conference record since the 1992-1993 season.

Still, Bradley has struggled to find consistency this season. Injuries and tough matchups have led to this erratic play.

Despite these struggles, junior Ariel Dechter said she remains optimistic.

“This is the most confident that I’ve felt during my time as a Bradley tennis player,” Dechter said. “I am excited to start conference play with my amazing team.”

Bradley has never seemed lacked confidence. What the Braves lacked this season is luck in the health department; Numerous starters spent significant time off the court dealing with injuries.

“We’ve had some significant people in our lineup that haven’t been able to play or are not playing at 100 percent,” head coach Matt Tyler said.

One aspect leaning in Bradley’s favor is its two victories over Prairie View A&M and Sam Houston State. Although these two wins came almost two weeks ago, Tyler is confident that the team’s play has improved.

“We got a lot of confidence out of those last two wins and hopefully that carries over going forward … and we can continue to build on our two game winning streak.”

Last season the Braves picked up two conference victories against ISU and Missouri State. This season, the women will enter as underdogs, embracing that role, and are looking for blood.

“In the past, Bradley has been the underdog, but I am so excited to move into conference play because I think that we will upset a lot of teams,” Dechter said. “They will not expect us to be as tough as we are this year.”

The Braves have gained valuable experience from every match they’ve played. Against stiff competition, these players have the experience of playing with their backs against the wall.

Fans can get into Spring fever with the women’s tennis team. With seven conference games in the next three weeks, fans are sure to get their fill of Bradley tennis.