The Valparaiso University tennis student-athletes exemplified champions in the classroom and in competition on Sunday.
First, the Beacons rallied after dropping the doubles point to emerge victorious for the second straight day, edging Oakland 5-2 in a thrilling nonconference finale at The Courts of Northwest Indiana. Just minutes after the victory concluded, the team arrived back on campus for the department’s annual Presidential Academic Honors Banquet to receive the Team Academic Award from President José Padilla for posting the department’s highest team grade point average.
(Editor’s Note: The remaining academic honors that were announced at Sunday’s banquet will be distributed via press release and published on ValpoAthletics.com on Monday.)
How It Happened
- A day after rallying to win the match despite losing the doubles point at Milwaukee, the Beacons turned the same trick on Sunday afternoon. Oakland swept all three doubles courts including a tightly-contested battle at No. 1 doubles, where Claire and Olivia Czerwonka (Kenosha, Wis. / Saint Joseph Catholic Academy) got out to the early lead but the guests rallied to force a tiebreak and win the match 7-6(5). The Grizzlies prevailed 6-2 at No. 2 doubles and 6-3 at No. 3.
- Although Oakland took an early 1-0 lead in the team score after doubles, that advantage didn’t last long. Olivia’s No. 1 singles match against Liza Mladentseva was over in the blink of an eye as she prevailed in dominant fashion, 6-2, 6-1. Her match was by far the first singles matchup to finish.
- Oakland won at No. 6 singles, then Mia Bertino (Lockport, Ill. / Joliet Catholic) finalized a straight-set win over Mia Melnizki in the battle of Mias at No. 5 singles, winning the two sets 6-4, 6-1 to tie the team score at 2-2.
- Another match that reached its conclusion in straight sets came at No. 3, where Amanda Tabanera (Valencia, Calif. / Valencia) picked up a 6-2, 6-4 win over Jullian Milano. With two matches remaining, Valpo needed to win just one more to clinch the team triumph, but both remaining matches were hanging in the balance.
- After falling 6-2 in the first set against Yasmin Glazbrook at No. 2 singles, Claire was down 3-2 in Set 2 and split the next two games to make it 4-3 Oakland, keeping the set on serve. Claire held serve to tie the set 4-4, then broke serve to go up 5-4 and have a chance to serve for the set. She converted on that opportunity, delivering an ace for the clinching point to finalize a 6-4 win in Set 2.
- Claire broke serve right away in Set 3 to go up 1-0, but Oakland broke back to make it 1-1. Claire again broke serve to go back up a break at 2-1, then she got the first hold of the set to extend the lead to 3-1. The next three games were service holds to make it 4-3 in favor of Claire, then she achieved a huge win in the next game to hold serve and go up 5-3. Claire broke serve to win the set 6-3 and clinch the team match for the Beacons.
- At the same time Claire’s match was coming down to the wire, Demi Jhaveri’s (Westlake, Ohio / Westlake) was doing the same at No. 4 singles. She earned an impressive 7-6(7) victory in a marathon first set, then closed the match by winning 7-5 in another tightly-contested affair.
Inside the Match
- With each passing victory, Valpo establishes the program’s highest single-season win total since 2007. The 2007 squad finished with 11 victories, while this year’s version of the Beacons is up to eight.
- The win over Oakland closed out a weekend sweep of Horizon League members after Valpo picked up a road win at Milwaukee on Saturday.
- After snapping a seven-match head-to-head losing streak to Oakland last season, Valpo has now defeated the Golden Grizzlies in consecutive years.
- Claire closed out a 2-0 weekend to move her career singles win total to 54, fifth in program history. She is four away from moving into a tie for third.
- Olivia earned her team-leading 17th singles win this season, while Tabanera picked up her 14th, Jhaveri her 12th, Bertino her 11th and Claire her 10th.
- Tabanera now has 37 career singles wins, approaching a spot in the program record book. Olivia now owns 41 career singles wins, a mark that is 10th in program history and three away from ninth.
The Beacons (8-8) will open Missouri Valley Conference play on Saturday vs. Drake at The Courts of Northwest Indiana. The match will begin at 3 p.m. Both of next weekend’s matches have been moved indoors due to the weather forecast. The Sunday match against UNI will be Senior Day and will begin at 8:30 a.m. at The Courts of NWI.