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Tennis falls to Illinois State despite winning doubles

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

After a loss against Saint Louis on Thursday, Bradley tennis (7-13) looked to bounce back against conference rival Illinois State. However, the result did not go in Bradley’s favor.

Coming into this match near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference, the Redbirds were expecting huge results against their biggest rivals. Which they got, as ISU was able to defeat the Braves for the eighth time in a row 6-1. 

The lone point for Bradley in this match was the doubles point. Freshman Andra Sirbu and junior Kirstin Hailey won their match 6-4, while sophomores Anna Belogliadova and Alexandra Hildreth won theirs 6-2.

However, in the singles matches, it was all Illinois State. 

The Braves had some good performances, though, as Sirbu took her match into a tiebreaker and Hailey had a very close 7-6 first set.

“First and foremost, Illinois State is a good team,” head coach Matt Tyler said. “They’ve been the perennial regular season champion for the past few years. But winning that doubles point was huge, and it gives us a little more life going into the singles matches.”

Even with a two-loss streak and four matches left in the regular season, Tyler is confident that the team can pull off victories now more than ever.

“It’s just been the story of our season, where we’re on the verge of competing,” Tyler said. “A lot of these really good teams, they just can’t quite get over the top.” 

“The good news is I think we’re peaking at the right time and if we can come away with a couple more wins, then we’ll make the conference tournament and see what we can do at that point,” Tyler added.

Bradley will face a busy weekend with a tour around Iowa, facing Drake on Saturday and Northern Iowa on Sunday. Drake is 3-2 in the Valley while Northern Iowa has yet to get a win in conference play this season.

Tyler reveals that the focal point to pick up victories this weekend will be the same as it’s been the whole year.

“[The key is] continuing to do the same things that we’ve done all season long,” Tyler said. “I think we’re on the verge of winning a lot of these matches. I feel great going into both of those matches. I think Drake, especially, is a very good team.” 

“Northern Iowa is tough. Their record doesn’t necessarily reflect that, but there’s no such thing as a bad Division I team, so we’re going to have to be focused,” Tyler added.

As the season goes into crunch time, the Braves are hoping to grab some big wins to guarantee a spot in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

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