Sophie Hermann had one of three singles wins for URI in Saturday’s loss. PHOTO CREDIT: gorhody.com
The University of Rhode Island Women’s Tennis team lost 3-4 to Stony Brook on their homecourt at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The doubles teams were the first to set the scene for the match. URI head coach Val Villucci explained the work that the team puts into strengthening their skills with their doubles partners. Coach Villucci highlighted the importance of understanding how one’s partner plays the game of tennis is a crucial part of playing in a doubles match.
“Keeping your partner up and feeding them positive information keeps the focus more on the opponent.” Villucci said. “That kind of provokes chemistry, which is something that can go a long way.”
Number two doubles, fourth-year Nadia Rajan and first-year Ava Grnja were defeated in a 6-2 game loss by Stony Brook’s Kristine Theys and Debby Mastrodimu. Number three doubles, first-year Nikki Fernando and first-year Priyanka Shanker defeated Chandrika Joshi and Mathilde Sreeves with a 6-2 takeover.
Villucci discussed that the team had been working on the relationship they built with their doubles partners from the start of the season.
“It comes natural to them, we work on the dynamic of playing with a partner,” Villucci said.
Number one doubles, third-year Valentina Cvackova and first-year Sophie Herman played a close match, losing with a 6-4 game score against Loreto Villalba-Rubio and Kristi Boro. According to Cvackova and Herman, their secret to working well together as doubles partners is always having a positive attitude and hyping each other up in between points.
Later on during the singles matches, Cvackova went up against Villalba-Rubio again shortly after completing their doubles match.
“Players play so differently in singles and doubles, singles is a much more aggressive style of play, more of a strategic, and more taxing way to play.” coach Villucci said. “It becomes who’s the stronger mind physically [that] is a factor [and you] always have to make adjustments.”
Number four singles finished first, with Fernando defeating Boro in a 6-2, 6-4 game score. Number six singles Shanker was the second player to step off the court after losing to Mastrodima in a 6-4, 6-1 match. Rhody’s number two singles Herman defeated Theys 6-3 in the first set, followed by a 6-2 score in the second set. Number five singles Grnja was defeated by Stony Brook’s Sreeves with a 6-3 score in both sets.
The Rams number one singles Cvackova defeated Villalba-Rubio a second time during Saturday’s match, as she came out on top. Cvackova won 7-5 in the first set followed by a 6-2 game score in the second set. The last singles match to close up the game was number three singles Rajan, who played the longest match of the night. Rajan lost 6-4 in the first set, and then ended the second set with a 3-6 win, followed by a 6-1 tiebreaking loss to finish off the final score.
On Saturday, Villucci pointed out that the team showed their positive attitude and composure throughout the match. Villucci mentioned that showing a lot of emotion during the match is part of the sport. Especially when it comes to their opponents showing a lot of emotion on the court, the players learn how to deal with it.
“It’s just a matter of staying focused, don’t treat it like a distraction. Expectation that emotion is going to be shown.” Villuci said. “Some are really good at internalizing it while keeping composure.”
Although Rhody did not win against Stony Brook, Villucci gave an insight as to how she feels about this season. She discussed that the schools that the Rams have been going up against are all teams that are relatively at the same ability level. Villucci went further in explaining that the matches they have been playing have been extremely close.
“A match can go any way at any time, we’re just trying to catch a break once in a while, and still waiting for that to happen,” Villucci said. “It’s such a fine line that can make a change, catching a little bit of luck every now and then.”
Looking forward to the teams upcoming match on Friday, the Rams will drive up to Cambridge, Massachusetts to take on Harvard. Coach Villucci explained the team is used to driving up to their home matches in Newport, as well as making the commute to their practices.
She then elaborated that with all the driving they already do, heading to an away match is not a setback for the team that contributes to any sort of negative expectations for an away match. According to Coach Villucci, the team’s positive attitude and up beat energy has stuck with them throughout their matches and will continue to follow them through the rest of the season.