The Valparaiso University women’s tennis program has announced its spring schedule, which will feature 16 matches leading into the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament starting on April 21 in Normal, Ill.
Eight of those matches will be in league play, including dates with the three Valley newcomers – March 18 at Murray State, March 19 at Belmont and March 26 vs. UIC. The Beacons will make a two-match Iowa swing (April 1 at UNI, April 2 at Drake) before closing the regular season with a string of home matches – April 7 vs. Bradley, April 8 vs. Illinois State and April 15 vs. Missouri State.
The spring slate begins on Jan. 21 at Cleveland State before the Jan. 28 home opener vs. SIUE at The Courts of Northwest Indiana. Other nonleague home opponents include Western Michigan (Feb. 18), Saint Louis (Feb. 19) and Milwaukee (March 25), while the team will also visit Northern Illinois (Feb. 11). Orlando will be the destination for this year’s spring trip and will include matches against Loyola Maryland (March 14) and South Dakota (March 15).
Valpo is led by reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Olivia Czerwonka (Kenosha, Wis. / Saint Joseph Catholic Academy), who ranks sixth in program history in career singles victories and fourth in career doubles triumphs. This fall, freshman Moira Silva (Houston, Texas / Houston Tennis Academy) burst onto the scene by winning the MVC Flight 2 Singles Individual Championship. The Beacons will look to build on last season, when they achieved the team’s highest win total – both overall and in league play – since 2007. The team garnered its first league tournament victory since 2006 and Czerwonka represented the program’s first Conference Player of the Year since 2001.
“We’re going into the spring semester with a lot of optimism,” head coach Bob Modesto said. “When you have the reigning conference Player of the Year at No. 1 and the conference champion at No. 2, you feel like you are very strong at the top of the lineup. We have great heart in the middle portion of the lineup, and we have a lot to be hopeful for about the bottom portion of the lineup. Having Claire (Czerwonka) as our assistant coach is going to pay dividends as well.”
In addition, the program has announced that Olivia Czerwonka will serve as the team captain this year.
“Olivia has been a co-captain alongside Claire over the last few years, and she’s earned this opportunity to be the sole captain this year,” Modesto said. “She’s been a leader both on the court and academically and she’s someone who we want to lead our team to not only success but to compete for a conference championship. Even beyond her playing ability and expertise, her character makes us want her to be a captain for us.”