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Tennis splits matches to pick up first win

Sandra Maletin smiles during a match in the spring 2020 season. Photo via Bradley Athletics.

Bradley tennis climbed back into the win column this past weekend, splitting a pair of matches against University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Eastern Michigan (EMU).

The Braves lost 1-6 against UIC on Friday, with junior Sandra Maletin picking up the win at No. 1 singles. Maletin dropped the first set 4-6 before coming back to win the next two 6-4 and 10-2.

Maletin finished last season with a 17-2 record, just one win shy of the program record for single-season singles winning percentage. She still feels a little pressure playing against the best at No. 1 singles every week, but according to her, it’s a good kind of pressure. 

“It’s kind of like positive energy more than … a fear,” Maletin said. “I’m just trying to give an example to underclassmen and my other teammates.”

On Saturday, Bradley had better success, beating EMU 4-1 while clinching its first doubles point of the young season. Maletin and senior Natalia Barbery won at No. 1 doubles and the sophomore duo of Bozana Lojpur and Nikki Perlwitz won at No. 3 doubles, both by a score of 7-6 (4).

Head coach Matt Tyler credits the team’s effort in practice for their doubles success on Saturday.

“We had a great week of practice,” Tyler said. “[We] played a lot of doubles and I think we got our confidence going. We had really good energy going into the doubles, and it was a great performance for us.”

In singles, Maletin shined once again, winning in straight sets 6-1, 6-2. Lojpur won at No. 2 singles and freshman Maria Bezmenova won at No. 4 singles to capture her first collegiate singles win and clinch the match for the Braves.

Tyler said he thinks playing time was crucial to the team’s improvement in singles from Friday to Saturday. 

“A lot of it’s just getting some matches under our belt,” Tyler said. “Actually getting some competition over the last couple weeks helps a lot. Playing [Friday] and getting some of those nerves out and being ready to go for today made all the difference.”

Bradley will take on Southeast Missouri State next, who is riding a three-match win streak. However, Tyler said he is not one to shy away from competition. 

“It’s just a matter of confidence and belief in ourselves,” Tyler said. “We definitely have enough talent on this team to beat anybody that’s put in front of us.”

The match with the Redhawks will begin at 1 p.m. tomorrow at The Clubs at River City.

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