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Tennis tops cats, fall to ‘Dogs in weekend set at home

Junior Madalena Andrade prepares for the return hit. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

With two conference foes coming from Iowa to battle against Bradley’s tennis team, the Braves beat the Northern Iowa Panthers last Saturday 4-3 but lost to the Drake Bulldogs the next day 5-2.

Bradley started out with two doubles wins against Northern Iowa with the junior-sophomore combo of Madalena Andrade and Kirstin Hailey victorious 6-4, followed by freshman Anna Belogliadova and junior Maria Bezmenova winning 6-2. Freshman Mariia Pukhina and junior Alex Hildreth couldn’t complete the doubles sweep, losing 6-4. 

The Braves started singles with a 7-5, 6-4 win by Belogliadova while Andrade worked for her singles win as well, emerging victorious by scores of 7-5, 7-6. Pukhina won her first set 7-5 but surprisingly lost her following two sets 6-0.

“She had a bit of a back injury that crept up that held her back a bit, as well as the UNI girl playing better in that second set was a big difference there,” Bradley head coach Matt Tyler said of the sudden change in Pukhina’s performance.

Hildreth struggled in her first set, losing 6-0, and improved in her second set but still lost 7-5. 

Bezmenova suffered a tough 7-6 defeat and it didn’t get much better in the second set, falling 6-3. Hailey lost a close first set 7-5 but learned from her mistakes by winning her next two sets 6-3, 6-2 and clinching a narrow victory for the Braves. 

“I thought I still played really well in the first set, I came back knowing I could play well if I just came back into it with a good mindset,” Hailey said

Against Drake, Andrade and Hailey again won their doubles match by the same 6-4 scores as the day prior.  The partners were named MVC Doubles Team of the week. The duo of Belogliadova and Bezmenova suffered the opposite fate by the same 6-4 score while Pukhina and Hildreth had a slightly less competitive defeat with a 6-3 result.

In singles, Belogliadova lost her first set 6-1 but came back in the second set to win 6-4, though it was in vain losing her third set again 6-1. Pukhina put up the same scores in both of her sets, losing 6-3. Hailey however, was victorious again by a score of 6-2, 7-5.

“I feel I have been playing a lot better and practicing a lot more, gaining confidence as I play more matches,” Hailey said. “We all try to play better towards the end of the season as it gets closer to conference, especially this season where only [six out of nine] teams make [the MVC Tournament].” 

Her doubles partner Andrade didn’t have as much luck against the Bulldogs, losing both her sets 6-3, 6-3. Bezmenova came out on top in her sets, winning 6-3 then a closer 7-5. Hildreth didn’t have similar success after being defeated 6-1 but fought back for a closer second-set loss of 6-4, finishing out a 5-2 loss for the Braves.

“I think this past weekend we played a great game versus Drake, they are a great team,” Tyler said. “We had a lot of chances to win that match. I don’t think fatigue mattered in that match, it was more the team not capitalizing on opportunities rather than any physical fatigue.”

This weekend, Bradley has a match against rival Illinois State on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Markin Tennis Courts.

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