Tennis drops second-straight road match at UConn

Paulina Loredo had one of the Ram’s two singles wins in a 5-2 loss at UConn. PHOTO CREDIT:

The University of Rhode Island women’s tennis team lost against the University of Connecticut (UConn) in a 2-5 game outcome in an away match in Storrs, Connecticut on Thursday at 1 p.m. 

As the Rams traveled to Connecticut for the match this past week, coach Val Villuci pointed out that even though UConn was a competitive school to go up against, there was a good energy on the court that day. 

“Very good sportsmanship, very respectful of each other’s games,” Villucci said. “They were playing against talented players and there was a great deal of respect for and from their opponents.” 

Number five singles was the first to finish the match. URI fifth-year Paulina Loredo defeated UConn’s Aleksandra Karamyshev. Loredo won both sets, first with a 6-3 score and finished the second set with a 6-4 outcome. Number six singles finished next: UConn’s Cameron Didion defeated first-year Piryana Shanker with a 6-4, 6-1 win. Number three singles was the next off the court, finishing the match in another loss for Rhody. UConn’s Maria Constantinour defeated fourth-year Nadia Rajan in a 6-4, 6-2 game.  

“They feel confident, they compete well, the matches have been close, and haven’t always turned out in our favor, we’d like it to keep confidence up and stay positive,” Villucci said. 

Continuing the rest of the singles matches, number two singles, URI first-year Sophie Herman defeated Isabel Petri Bere with a score of 7-5 in the first set followed by a 6-2 result in the second set. Number one singles Olivia Wright from UConn defeated third-year Valentina Cvackova in a 6-1 score in the first set, and a 7-6 close finish in the second set. The last player to step off the court for the singles matches was number four singles first-year Nikki Fernando, who was defeated by Aleksandra Karamyshev. Fernando won the first set with a two game lead resulting in a 6-4 score. Karamyshev won the next two sets with a 6-3, 6-1 final score.  

In between matches, Villucci mentioned how important it is to go into the next match with a positive attitude. She always likes to make sure that the players are there to do a good job, rather than put too much pressure on the sole fact of winning. 

“Before the match starts, I like to tell them to think of something they are going to say to themselves before or during the match, almost like a motivation tool they can use,” Villucci said.  

During the doubles matches, all teams ended their games with a 6-3 score. Number three doubles Fernando and Shanker were the first to complete their match against Caroline Cook and Doga Selen Takunyaci, followed by number two doubles Loredo and Rajan who played against Karamyshev and Bere. Lastly, number one doubles Cvackova and Herman lost their match to UConns players Wright and Constantinou. This closed the match with repetitive scores across all three doubles teams. 

Each year brings a new team into focus, and Villucci talked about how she as a coach likes to go about a new team when playing against a school the team has played in previous year. 

“[You] never know the line ups change on both teams, sometimes certain players can match up against other styles of players,” Villucci said. “It is important to recognize game styles and adjust their game to beat that game style.” 

With the upcoming match on home court in Newport on Saturday against Stony Brook, Villucci has gone through specific practice drills all season that have become beneficial for the players. She explained that in order to succeed with any given match it is important to have a good grasp on the basics of the game. 

“Continuously building confidence on specific shots such as first serves, clear returns are two of the most important shots,” Villucci said. “A player is not going to get too far within the match without understanding and being confident in the basics.” 

Looking forward to the Rams upcoming home match against Stony Brook at the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport. The team is prepared and always ready to take on their next competitors, and according to Villucci’s words of wisdom, the team always keeps a positive attitude no matter what the outcome may be.