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Tennis continues win streak against Eastern Illinois

Alexandra Hildreth gets ready to serve against Eastern Illinois, Photo courtesy of Bradley tennis Instagram.

Bradley tennis looked to extend their winning streak after a big sweep against Western Illinois last weekend. With matches on Friday and Sunday at home, they achieved that goal in a big way. 

The Braves (4-6) started the weekend against Eastern Illinois (0-11), a team they beat last year 5-2. They got their second straight sweep, winning 7-0. After two Panthers had to forfeit their matches, the schedule was whittled down to four singles and two doubles matches. Even with a 2-0 lead, Bradley didn’t take it easy on Eastern Illinois. 

“Starting out 2-0 makes a big difference,” head coach Matt Tyler said. “But, nonetheless, we had to play really well one through four. So, to get those wins was outstanding. I was really proud of the way they conducted themselves.” 

One of the more outstanding performances of the day came from freshman Andra Sirbu. She continued her great form, sweeping her singles match 6-0, 6-0. 

“Andra has really been outstanding for us, especially as a freshman,” Tyler said. “I think she’s just going to get better and better, and this weekend, I think, is proving that she’s pushing her level to new heights week in and week out. So, I’m super happy with the way she’s competing and performing at the moment.” 

On Sunday, against Kansas City, Bradley pulled through in a very close match, winning 4-3. The Braves split their singles matches, with wins from Sirbu, sophomore Anna Belogliadova and senior Maria Bezmenova. Tied at 3-3, it all came down to the doubles matches. Sirbu and junior Kirstin Hailey won 6-1, and Bezmenova and sophomore Mariia Pukhina won 6-4 to break the deadlock. 

“Our matches with UMKC are always really close,” Tyler said. “It’s always been really tight. That was one of those matches that went our way. That one certainly could’ve easily been a loss, but I think we’ve gained a lot of experience through those previous couple matches.” 

It will be a busy day for Bradley tennis on Saturday, as they travel to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to take on Southeast Missouri State at 9 a.m. and Arkansas State at noon. Doubleheaders like this can lead to fatigue, but Tyler thinks his team is ready.

“When we play doubleheaders, it’s always tough,” Tyler said. “But this is our third one of the season, so we’ve prepared for it. Physically, we’re in really good shape, due in large part to the fact that we played those doubleheaders. I think we’re ready for that challenge for sure, but we’re going to have to play well and stay focused.” 

So far, all four Bradley tennis victories have been at home, but their difficulties away from home don’t worry Tyler.

“Every time you go to a different facility, the courts are always a little bit different. Whether it’s faster, slower, that sort of thing. So, being at home and practicing on our home court, I think, is a significant advantage,” Tyler said. “But also, we’ll get a practice round in Friday night before we play them, so hopefully we adjusted to all these things and [will] be ready to go for Saturday.” 

The Braves look confident going into these matches and hope they can extend their winning streak up to five.

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