Braves flight winners highlight Bradley Invitational

Sophomore Aimee Manfredo reaches for a return during a match. Photo by Ann Schnabel.
Sophomore Aimee Manfredo reaches for a return during a match. Photo by Ann Schnabel.
Sophomore Aimee Manfredo reaches for a return during a match. Photo by Ann Schnabel.

For the second invitational of the fall season, The Bradley tennis team was presented with another opportunity to shake out any early-season jitters with some home field advantage. The squad hosted six teams at their annual Bradley Invitational this past weekend.

Head coach Matt Tyler said it was also a chance for the team to work on its game.

“We focused a bit more on serves and returns,” Tyler said. “Cutting down on unforced errors was a focal point.”

Over the course of the weekend, Bradley’s 10 players generated a 12-12 record for singles and a 9-7 record for doubles. Its major highlights came from sophomores Alejandra de Lasa and Ashley Thai in doubles and freshman Emma Sodergren in singles.

“I am happy because I saw progress and improvement from our first tournament, which is all you can really hope for,” Thai said.

The sophomore duo, de Lasa and Thai, took a firm stance on their home territory to win the B Flight Doubles championship. They built an early 5-2 lead against Bradley’s in-state rival, Illinois State. The game point was made after Thai’s serve, leaving the duo with a 4-0 record at the end of the invitational.

“Alejandra and I have become very close off [and on] the court,” Thai said. “I’d say on the court Ale is much more intense than me, which has helped me because it helps me not lose focus at the same time since I am not as intense.”

Sodergren defeated Thai in the B Flight Singles championship match with a 6-1 and 6-0.

“With all of us being at such a high skill level, we are also all able to push one another which is very beneficial in the long run because we can see a lot more improvement in everyone’s game,” Thai said.

Tyler said the team’s high skill level comes from the camraderie they’ve established.

“Team cohesion is absolutely a key aspect with regard to our performance,” Tyler said. “For us, the most important things are treating people right and working as hard as you can to achieve your goals.”

The next tournament for the women’s team is the Missouri Valley Conference Individual Championships. It will take place this weekend in Springfield at the Velasco Tennis Center.