Tennis drops final regular season tune-up ahead of A-10 championships

The University of Rhode Island tennis team fell 4-1 to the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Saturday in their last regular season game before the Atlantic 10 championship.

The Rams’ lone point came from second-year Nikki Fernando’s number three singles win in straight sets 7-5, 6-0 against second-year Ella Faessler. This marked Fernando’s 18th singles win this season, a feat which set her a new team record. Ferndando said she was proud of her progress throughout the year.

“I think yesterday’s match was a really mental game,” Fernando said. “The person I was playing [had] very strong shots right off the beginning, winners left and right but … I was able to pull that 6-0 second set because mentally I think I came out stronger than she was.”

Elsewhere in singles, fourth-year Nadia Rajan fell in a close second set to third-year Thamonpan Jonglertakul, who took the match 6-2, 7-6.

Rajan joined Fernando against Jonglertakul again for their doubles play against UMass, where Jonglertakul and her partner, fourth-year Danielle Hack, beat out the Rams 7-5.

Rhode Island first-years Steph Hylton and Priyanka Shanker earned a number two doubles win, 6-3 against Faessler and first-year Amelia Tye, in the Rams’ solo doubles match win of the match. Third-years Mariana Campino and Renata Farima of UMass, however, bested third-year Klara Nelander and first-year Sophie Herrman 6-4 to close out with the team doubles’ point for the Minutewomen.

Although the result was not as the Rams’ hoped it would be, the team was satisfied with the process and commitment shown throughout the matches, according to URI Head Coach Jonas Brobeck.

“We talked a lot about this year [how] to just kind of set the tone and play our style of tennis from start to finish,” Brobeck said. “When you do that you always give yourself the opportunity to play at the highest level.”

In singles play, Herrman fell to Hack 6-1, 6-2. Her doubles partner, Nelander, was bested after UMass’ Campino claimed her fourth point of their match, 6-2, 3-6, 3-2. Likewise, Hylton fell to Minutewoman Renata Farima, 6-2, 6-1. Finally, fifth-year Polina Akimova bested first-year Ram Priyanka Shanker, cutting their match short 4-6, 6-0,1-3 after UMass had already scored enough points for the win.

Despite the loss, the Rams were not phased by these results and feel confident going into their championship.

“We went into the match knowing it was going to be a difficult team,” Fernando said. “Yes, there were some struggles here and there, but by the end I felt like we were all competing as one and the energy all around was great.”

As Brobeck’s first year as the head coach comes to a close, he reflected on the bonds he made with the players throughout, and how that has impacted their play. He gave credit to the team for having an open mind to his visions going into the year.

“When Dan [Cardiff], the assistant coach, and I took over this team in the end of last summer, all these nine girls on the team, none of them we had recruited,” Brobeck said. “So we understood the importance of building relationships with them and building trust.”

Both Brobeck and Fernando expressed the team’s excitement heading into the A-10 championship this week. Following the loss, the Rams stood at 3-3 in conference play and 13-6 overall as they traveled down on Monday to Orlando, Florida for the championship.

On Wednesday, they took down St. Bonaventure University 4-2 in the first round of the championship. The team next plays tonight at 7 p.m. against UMass where they will search for redemption to earn them a spot in the semifinals.