On Sunday, the University of Rhode Island’s women’s tennis team opened their season by taking on Siena College and securing a 6-1 victory.
URI was victorious in all six singles matches: fifth-year Nadia Rajan, second-year Nikki Fernando and second-year Ava Grnja took care of their singles opponents with Rajan and Grnja winning 6-4 in both sets for a pair of 2-0 victories. Fernando won her match in two sets as well by scores of 7-5 and 6-2.
Five of the six matches were won in straight sets. The one outlier in the singles matches was second-year Sophie Herrman’s match. After losing the first set 6-4, she then won the next set by the same score. She earned the win on a third set 38-point third-set tiebreaker, in which she took the victory 20-18 to secure the victory in the match 2-1.
“I honestly felt energized towards the end because throughout the tiebreaker I had the whole team there and everyone was cheering me on and I think that made a really big difference,” Herrman said. “And then finding out the team had won too and there was so much excitement in that moment.”
Herrman and her doubles partner, fourth-year Valentina Cvackoval, both recorded victories in singles play. Cvackoval earned a 2-0 win over Siena’s fourth-year Emma Boggiali. She won both sets by a score of 6-2, but despite this, her doubles team dropped their match by a score of 6-4. Rajan and Fernando were defeated 6-2 along with Grnja and Fernando, who also fell short by a score of 6-3, which led to the Rams getting swept in doubles play and dropping the doubles point to the Saints.
“With Valentina I thought we had good chemistry,” Herrman said. “I think going forward it’s just gonna be a matter of turning over on those big points kind of just enjoying the moment more and relaxing a little bit.”
The URI Student Athlete of The Week also highlighted her third-year teammate Klara Nelander’s performance. Nelander won her singles match 6-1, 6-0, notching a 2-0 win for the Rams.
“She had such a dominant performance,” Herrman said. “She’s always such a steady force on the court, always so well composed. I love the way that she constructs points.”
Herrman continued to complement Nelanders’ performance.
“I was so excited and just so proud to be her teammate and see her excelling on the court and finally getting back onto the court and like doing really well with it,” she said.
URI Head Coach Jonas Brobeck also shared his thoughts on the match Sunday, pointing out Herrman’s singles match.
“We were very happy to see Sophie competing at a very high level,” Brobeck said. “She did a really good job mentally staying level-headed, staying within herself and competing within herself.”
He also addressed losing all three courts in doubles play and getting swept by Siena.
“Doubles is definitely something we need to improve on but it was also a little bit first match nerves,” Brobeck said. “[It] was the same for Senia, so credit to Siena for handling it really well.”
Brobeck said that their “main focus” is to plan to improve their doubles play going forwards. He admired the team being able to reset after the doubles point was dropped and taking care of singles play.
“We competed with great energy,” he said. “We competed as a very strong close knitted team, which was exciting to see and a great building block for the rest of the season.”
Brobeck said that he and the team this season are focusing more on process than result-oriented goals.
“It’s all about the preperation and doing the right things day in and day out,” he said. “I think the results Sunday shows that we are moving in the right direction after losing to them 4-3 last year and beating them 6-1 this year, [it] shows we are doing a lot of things the right way.”
The Rams will look to carry their momentum over into their match against Boston University on Saturday, Feb. 3rd at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.