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Bradley Tennis opens season at SIUE

Bradley tennis opened its season in Edwardsville last weekend. Photo courtesy Bradley Athletics and Josh Schwam.

Bradley’s women’s tennis team is back on the courts after not having individual competition last fall due to COVID-19. Their first invite was played at SIU-Edwardsville last weekend.

It was all Bradley in singles against Western Illinois, as the Braves won all of their five singles Flights.

Bradley’s experience was apparent on Saturday against the Leathernecks as senior Sandra Maletin shined in the No. 1 Flight, winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-0 and junior Bozana Lojpur won in the No. 2 Flight in two sets 6-2, 6-4. Sophomores Maria Bezmenova and Juliana Martinez added wins at No. 3 and No. 4 Flights in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 and 6-3, 6-2, respectively. Lastly, junior Nikki Perlwitz prevailed in the No. 5 Flight, 6-3, 6-0.

Newcomers Madalena Andrade and Kirstin Hailey both won their first match wearing a Bradley uniform. The pair played against SIUE earlier and did not disappoint with their first performance. Andrade won after a battle of three sets 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 in Flight 3 while Hailey won at No. 4 singles in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.

“I was confident in their ability levels, and it is always nice to have your expectations met,” head coach Matt Tyler said.

It is unusual for a freshman to play right away, but Tyler expects Hailey will be looking to move up the lineup as the season develops.

“Kirstin is a great player; I really had no reservations playing her in that fourth position at all,” Tyler said. “It was nice to be able to push her down a little bit and give her some experience at the collegiate level and see how she performs.”

Another notable player this weekend was Perlwitz, as she won all of her three matches. 

“Nikki played great all weekend, too, which we expected,” Tyler said. “She has been a solid contributor for us for the past four years and came in looking really good.”

Perlwitz was satisfied with her performances last weekend and is thankful to have coaches that not only encourage her to win, but also make her the best version of herself as a player.

“Winning all my matches last weekend was really great, but definitely challenging as it’s our first weekend back,” Perlwitz said. “It’s always tough to get back into the competitive mindset after break, but our coaches prepared us well and helped me a lot during my matches when it came to keeping a positive attitude.”

In doubles competition against Eastern Illinois, the junior duo of Lojpur and Perlwitz won at Flight 2 doubles, by a score of 6-3. The Braves’ duo of Nina Marjanovic and Juliana Martinez won at Flight 3 Doubles, by a score of 6-1. 

Tyler was pleased with the performance of his team overall, but firmly believes the team can improve in doubles.

“Our doubles play needs to get better; it’s always been the case for us,” Tyler said. “I feel like it’s an area that we are always needing to improve. I would like to see those wins be a little more dominant. They were a little closer than what I would have liked and what we are capable of.”

The team will be back in action during the three-day Redbird Invite in Normal, Illinois beginning today.

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