Coming off a historic team season last spring, the Bradley tennis team continued its conference success at the Missouri Valley Conference Individual Championships on Oct. 4 in Waterloo, Iowa.
All seven Braves won at least one match at the tournament while sophomores Bozana Lojpur and Nikki Perlwitz highlighted the weekend by winning two individual championships. The program now has five MVC Individual Championships.
Head coach Matt Tyler spoke about what the focus was heading into the fall season and the individual championship.
“A lot of it in the fall is about reconnecting and coming together as a group,” Tyler said. “A lot of basics: serves, returns, first ball stuff.”
Tyler also touched on what taking second place in the MVC of last spring’s team season meant for the fall.
“[By] being one win away from the regular season championship, it gave everyone a lot of confidence and a lot of belief of ‘Hey, this is our spot, we’re one of the best teams in this conference,’” Tyler said. “Belief is kind of everything, if you believe you’re going to win then you have a good chance at doing so.”
The tournament started on Friday and the Braves advanced six entries to the semifinals through all the available flights. In doubles, all three pairs won their quarterfinal matches. When it came to singles, Lojpur, Perlwitz and junior Sandra Maletin all moved on to play in the semifinals of their respective flights.
On Saturday, Bradley’s success continued, advancing four flights to the finals. In doubles, the duo of Maletin and senior Natalia Barbery won their semifinal match 8-6. Lojpur, Perlwitz and Maletin all won their singles matches to advance to the finals in the top two flights and the fifth flight of singles play respectively.
Finally, on Sunday the championship round was played. In the top flight of singles, Maletin fell to Stony Brook sophomore Jamie Wei 6-4, 6-1. It was Maletin’s first loss of the fall season.
Flight two and three singles, on the other hand turned out differently. Lojpur won the program’s highest individual conference championship at the second flight of singles. She won her match against Drake junior Liza Petushkova in a three set battle, 7-6, 3-6, 6-0.
Lastly, in the fifth flight of singles Perlwitz also won. She beat Illinois State senior Laura Arciniegas in straight sets 6-4, 6-3. The win continues her undefeated fall singles season.
In doubles play, Maletin and Barbery fell to the Stony Brook pair of Wei and sophomore Sasha Bekirova 8-3. Lojpur and Perlwitz placed third together in doubles, winning their consolation final 8-4.
Tyler described the teams’ mindset going into Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Regional in Norman, Oklahoma, which began yesterday.
“ITA is an important event as well, it’s all the best teams in our region. It’s a good opportunity to get some good reps against good competition,” Tyler said. “The pressure is kind of off because of the level of competition, you can just kind of go out and play.”
Tyler also took a look ahead to the spring team season and commented on what the team will need to work on before then.
“Doubles is always a focus although I feel our level of play is definitely up,” Tyler said. “Keeping things basic, making sure we’re fit and healthy and continuing our team culture is key.”