Tennis opens spring season with a win

Tight doubles wins lead Rams to victory against Bucknell


The University of Rhode Island women’s tennis team kicked off their first match Sunday at the International Tennis Hall of Fame with a 4-2 win against Bucknell, setting the tone for their upcoming season.   

During the previous weeks the team has been working hard in preparation for their first match of the season. The lineup for the schools they are going up against this season will be invigorating and challenging matchups for the team according to Coach Val Villucci and the team. After looking over the schedule for this season, both Coach Villucci and a few of the players have proposed that UMass and Quinnipiac are considered to be their biggest competitors. 

Even with the challenge that those matches might bring, the team is ready and motivated to succeed. Looking forward, Coach Villucci expressed some of the team’s expectations for the season.

“Each individual needs to be comfortable with their game, they are a talented group and there is a lot of potential,” Coach Villucci said. 

Taking on the role of a student athlete comes with hard work and dedication. This year, the majority of the team is made up of first-year students who have committed to that role and Coach Villucci has communicated just how much each one of them has been an asset to the team. 

 “They are a positive group who have brought a lot of energy to the team,” Villucci said. 

Over the course of the next week, the team will compete in two matches a couple days apart leaving room for only one day of practice in between the two matches. The team will take on Boston University at an away match on Friday and two days later on Sunday drive up to New York to compete against Siena College. The day in between the two matches will give them a chance to do some light conditioning as part of their practice to prepare themselves for the match the following day. 

Heading into their first match there were typical nerves amongst the team, according to Villucci.

“If there are no nerves, it means they’re not prepared,” coach Villucci said. 

She indicated that with their preparation the team knew how to control those nerves and use them to their advantage as part of their first match. 

Throughout their first match of the season on Sunday, there was an immense amount of  excitement echoed over each court at the tennis hall of fame. Even if there was the smallest break in between games whether it was going to pick up the ball or getting a drink of water each teammate cheered each other on from wherever they were. The close knit group that this team is composed of shows the support they will bring to every match throughout the season. 

Doubles matches were the first up to play in the match. Doubles partners first-year Sophie Herman and second-year Valentina Cvackova started off strong and consistently kept up that rhythm during the length of their match. However, there were a few returns or volleys they wished had worked out in their favor, that never shook their confidence. After each point both players became more determined to bring the score back up. Some of the best rallies took place when the score was tied up which pushed their motivation into high gear helping them win those points. 

The overall match was a 4-2 win for Rhody against Bucknell on Sunday. Number one doubles Cvackova and Herrman and number three doubles partners third-year Klara Nelander and first-year Ava Grnja finished first, winning both of their matches.

 While number two doubles partner fourth-year Nadia Rajan and first-year Nikki Fernando played a close first game leaving the score at 5-4. 

During the singles matches number one singles player Rajan and number two singles Cvackova both played a tough match however, both lost to Bucknell. Number three singles player Herrman and number four singles Fernando both had high leads over the course of their games and beat the opposing team.

Heading into the last two matches of the night, number five singles Nelander started the match off strong and came close to winning but unfortunately did not get to finish the match. The opposing team’s number six singles player had to default the game leaving number six singles player graduate student Paulina Loredo with an automatic win. 

The dynamic of this team came prepared and ready to win their first match. Across the courts, the match was filled with high energy, enthusiasm and motivation by the team which shed a light on what can be expected in the upcoming matches throughout the rest of the season.