Tennis performs strong at tournament

Junior Nicole Johnson (left) and sophomore Sara Neves (right) return a serve on a doubles match. Vanguard Photo Editor | Brooke Elward

While participating in out-of-state matches the past several weekends, the SVSU women’s tennis team was able to assess strengths and weaknesses with tournament-style play before competing head-to-head with other collegiate teams.

At the Ashland University Invitational on Sept. 11-12, the team dominated Ashland winning five of six singles matches and two of three doubles matches.

In matchups against West Virginia State University, SVSU lost five of six singles matches and all three doubles matches.

From Sept. 18-19 the team played at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regionals with senior Nicole Johnson making it to the final round of the consolation singles matches while freshman Andrea Teofilovic made it to the quarterfinal round in the singles matches.

Coach Ryan Ruzziconi said their performance so far is thanks in part to the team’s structure.

“We have two seniors, three juniors, one sophomore, and four freshmen,” Ruzziconi said. “We have almost an equal amount of match experience and inexperience on our roster … with that roster makeup, we expect to see our seniors and juniors leading the way on a weekly basis, with our sophomore and freshmen continuing to contribute at a high level as they gain more and more college tennis experience.”

Coming into Friday’s matchup at home versus Lawrence Tech, Ruzziconi was confident in his team while also acknowledging the talent of the competition.

“We know Lawrence Tech will be tough, they always play hard, and they have one of the best coaches in the game today,” Ruzziconi said. “…we expect a fight, but we will be ready.”

The team did not disappoint, winning their home opener 5-2 over Lawrence Tech.

SVSU managed to take one of three doubles matches, with sophomore Chelsea Dzenga and freshmen Elizabeth Stuart winning 7-5. In singles, SVSU took all but the No. 1 seed matchup, winning five of six matches altogether, three of which resulted in a third- set tiebreaker.

Though fall season performance will not impact the team’s standing in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference (GLIAC), Ruzziconi says the work being done now will pay off when the GLIAC season starts in March.

“While we have a long way to go until the spring, our goal is to continue to re-build the program and climb the standings in the GLIAC,” Ruzziconi said. “I think we should be in the top-half of the GLIAC this spring.”

Up next, the team will have a home matchup against Cornerstone on Saturday Oct. 2 at 11 A.M. and an away matchup against Hillsdale in Grand Rapids at 1 P.M.

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