The Valparaiso University tennis team put together a glowing 9-1 record in 10 matches on Saturday, setting the stage for championship competition in four finals matches on Sunday at the Illinois State Invite, taking place this weekend in Normal, Ill.
How It Happened
- The top doubles tandem of Olivia Czerwonka (Kenosha, Wis. / Saint Joseph Catholic Academy) and Moira Silva (Houston, Texas / Houston Tennis Academy) not only knocked off the No. 2 seeded duo of Vichare/Brichackova (Eastern Michigan) to advance to the championship match in Flight 1, but they did so in lopsided fashion, dropping just one game in an 8-1 victory.
- Valpo was victorious in consolation matches in each of the other two doubles flights. Valpo’s pair of Sydney Stone (Brisbane, Australia / Tyler JC) and Elizabeth Sobieski (Muskego, Wis. / Muskego) dominated their match 8-1 over Brown/Fay of Eastern Illinois. The Flight 3 match featuring Mia Bertino (Lockport, Ill. / Joliet Catholic) and Jolene Fernandes (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) was more tightly-contested, but the Beacon duo picked up an 8-6 win over Qurioz/Reddy of Eastern Michigan. The Valpo representatives in the second and third doubles flights will both play for fifth place on Sunday.
- Three Valpo singles players will compete in championship matches on Sunday after earning semifinal wins on Saturday. That trio includes Czerwonka, who pulled out a thrilling 6-4, 3-6, 10-8 win over Tijana Zlatanovic of Illinois State in Flight 1.
- In Flight 2, Silva punched her ticket to the title match by besting No. 2 seed Prerna Vichare of Eastern Michigan. She did not slip up in a game in Set 1, posting 6-0 bagel, before falling in a close second set 4-6. Just like Czerwonka in Flight 1, Silva eked out a 10-8 third-set tiebreak win in Flight 2.
- The third Beacon to make her way to the championship round was Sobieski, who also emerged victorious in a three-set thriller. Hers came over Yinong Ma of St. Thomas in Flight 5, as she prevailed 6-2, 3-6, 10-7.
- Three Valpo players picked up wins in the consolation draw on a day where Valpo went 6-1 in singles action. In Flight 3, Bertino beat Tentu of St. Thomas 6-1 in the first set and led 2-1 in Set 2 when Tentu defaulted due to injury.
- In Flight 6, Fernandes swept Hildreth of Bradley 6-2, 6-4, while Lillian Kelly (Fullerton, Calif. / Fullerton Union) downed Hughes of Chicago State 6-2, 6-2 in Flight 7. Bertino, Fernandes and Kelly will all play for fifth place on Sunday.
Inside the Matches
- Czerwonka’s singles win on Saturday came over Zlatanovic, whose decorated career includes 2020-21 MVC Singles Player and Freshman of the Year, plus MVC All-Select team each of the last two years. This was the latest installment in a rivalry between two elite MVC players that saw Zlatanovic prevail last fall after Czerwonka picked up a big win in a dual match during the Spring 2022 campaign.
- Czerwonka is up to 71 career singles wins and 69 career doubles wins, the latter of which is three behind her older sister Claire for the program record.
- Silva crossed the 50-win milestone combined between singles and doubles for her young collegiate career on Saturday. She has now won on 27 occasions in singles play and 24 times on the doubles court.
- Sobieski is a perfect 7-0 in singles play during her sophomore season.
The tournament at Illinois State will conclude on Sunday, when Valpo will be represented in four championship matches.