The women’s tennis team has been preparing well for their upcoming season by training and working hard. On. Feb. 3, the team began their spring season with a match against the team at the University of Chicago.
The team currently has no wins and seven losses against UIC. Within the long history of the women’s tennis team, in the very early stages of the team, they lost 3-6 to UIC in the 2004-2005 season. 20 years later, the team lost 3-6 in the 2014-2015 season.
“I think our losing streak against Chicago is because they’re one of the top teams in Division III, so they have a lot of strong players,” said junior physics major Casey Smith. “We just need to have more confidence in ourselves and to come out bigger and more united than we have in the past because I think that’s one thing that they have done better.”
During the 2016-2017 season, they lost 0-9 in the 2016-2017 season. In the 2021-2022 season, the team lost 2-7 to UIC. In that season, they reached the finals, where there were three double matches and six single matches.
In the first doubles matchup, it was Smith and Anastasiya Salenko against UIC’s Sylwia Mikos and Shianna Guo. They lost 4-8 to UIC. In the third doubles matchup, it was Grace Sueflohn and Sage Hills against UIC’s Miranda Yuan and Cara O’Flaherty. They won 8-6 and defeated UIC.
In the first singles match, it was Salenko against UIC’s Mikos. In the third round, she lost 2-6 to Mikos. In the third singles match, it was Smith against UIC’s Claudia Ng. In the third round, she lost to Ng 4-6. In the fourth singles match, it was Jovana Vujanic against UIC’s Nicole Geller. In the third round, she lost 5-7 to Geller. In the last match, it was Hills against UIC’s Eugenia Lee. In the final round, she won 10-6.
“I think we’re gonna do really well as a team against the Chicago team,” said Smith. “Both teams are really strong and we did very well against them last year, but this year, I’m really hoping that we can pull it together and win because we’ve been doing really well in practice.”
The wins from Hills at that last game against the school, wasn’t enough for the women’s tennis team to succeed in beating the team at the University of Chicago.
“Last year, when we lost to them, we lost by seven, but almost every quarter, we went three sets and lost by just a matter of a couple games,” said Smith. “We’re better prepared fitness wise, mentality wise, and we really have the opportunity to do very well.”
This year, the team has been doing better, in terms of their overall performance in the matches. In the ITA Tournament last fall, Salenko and Smith in Draw A were able to advance to the semifinals before being defeated by Grand Valley State’s Vasileia Griva and Taylor Barnett in the tie-breaker 9-8 (8-6).
Smith made it all the way to the Round of 16 before losing to Malak Arafat 2-6, 6-4, 10-8. In route to the round of 16, Smith defeated Davenport’s Skye Vandeleur, 6-1, 6-2. During the round of 32 matchup, Smith defeated Lake Superior State’s Madeleine Whip, 6-3, 6-4.
Last semester, the team wrapped up their fall season by attending the Northern Illinois University Fall Indoor Invitational, where they competed against the University of St. Thomas and NIU. In one of the singles matches against St. Thomas, Vujanic defeated Nicole Snezheko, 6-1, 6-2. In one of the doubles matches against St. Thomas, Smith and Salenko defeated Danina Hughes and Amina Taibi, 6-4.
Many of the athletes on the team have been training and working on certain individual things, like senior digital marketing major Jovana Vujanic.
“I’ve just put in some work as offseason workouts to get ready, like a hitting session during winter break, so I would say I’m pretty ready [for this season],” said Vujanic.
In terms of their preparation for this season, they have been training as hard as they can for their upcoming match with UIC.
“So we’ve been working a lot at the end of last semester after our fall season ended,” said Smith. “But this month especially, we’ve just been working on hitting so many balls and playing aggressively and working on things that we need to work on individually to make us better players.”
Generally speaking, the team has a good feeling about how well they’ll play at the upcoming matches this season.
“I think we have a new bias that with doubles last year, we kind of struggled a little bit,” said Vujanic. “This year, we have a new mindset and a new mentality on it, so I think overall, we’re gonna do pretty good.”
On Feb. 11, the women’s tennis team will be playing singles and doubles matches against Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, who they lost to 3-4 back in the 2018-2019 season.
Photo Credit: Steve Woltmann