Stone Comes Through in Clutch Match, Lifts Valpo to Dramatic Win Over Eastern Michigan
Sunday, February 18, 2024
Stone Comes Through in Clutch Match, Lifts Valpo to Dramatic Win Over Eastern Michigan
Sydney Stone won a three-set thriller that decided the team match on Sunday.

With the weight of the team result resting on her shoulders and the eyes of every person inside The Courts of Northwest Indiana tennis bubble resting on her racket, Valparaiso University tennis sophomore Sydney Stone (Brisbane, Australia / Tyler JC) was unflappable and unfazed. She displayed the poise needed to pull out one of the most dramatic matches in recent memory, lifting the Beacons to a memorable 4-3 victory over Eastern Michigan on Sunday.

How It Happened

  • At No. 3 doubles, the Valpo tandem of Mia Bertino (Lockport, Ill. / Joliet Catholic) and Jolene Fernandes (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) ran off six straight games to down the Eastern Michigan pair of Linda Eloundou and Andrea Quiroz.  
  • The other two doubles matches were more tightly contested. Valpo picked up the doubles point thanks to the play of Elizabeth Sobieski (Muskego, Wis. / Muskego) and Stone at No. 2. They took an early 2-1 lead on Ksyusha Saenko and Sabina Brichackova by breaking serve in the third game, then held to make it 3-1. The teams exchanged breaks and Valpo stayed up a break at 4-3. Then both pairs held serve to make it 5-4 and give the Beacons a chance to serve for the match. They converted to win 6-4 to take the doubles point.
  • At No. 1 doubles, Olivia Czerwonka (Kenosha, Wis. / Joliet Catholic) and Moira Silva (Houston, Texas / Houston Tennis Academy) were in a tight battle with Prerena Vichare and Daniella Shved. Eastern Michigan got the first break of the match at 2-2 and was up a break at 5-4 when play was halted.
  • Czerwonka was the first singles player off the court, winning her match at No. 2 over Quiroz in a pair of one-sided sets 6-2, 6-2. She was up 3-2 in the first set and won the next two games including a break to go up 5-2 and take control of Set 1 en route to the victory that helped Valpo take a 2-0 lead in the team score.
  • Sobieski took care of business at No. 6 singles, winning the final two games to take Set 1 6-3 before grabbing four of the first five games in Set 2. Sobieski broke serve to clinch the 6-2 win, lifting Valpo to a 3-0 lead in the match score.
  • Although Valpo owned a 3-0 advantage in matches that were finished, the way the four remaining matches were playing out made it clear that the team outcome would come down to the wire. At the time Sobieski’s match concluded, the Eagles were up a set and led Set 2 at both No. 3 and No. 4, and had started to take control in a decisive third set at No. 1.
  • Eastern Michigan would indeed eventually cap off straight-set wins at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots. Silva had won the opening set 6-1 at No. 1, but Shved turned it on to win the remaining sets 6-2, 6-2.
  • Slowly but surely, everyone’s attention turned to what was taking place at No. 5 singles between Stone and Sabina Brichackova. Stone had won the first set 6-3, but Eastern Michigan won the first four games of Set 2 to go up 4-0. Stone responded by winning four straight games of her own, and at 4-4 the lead in the set hinged on a massive deuce point with EMU serving. Stone broke serve on the deuce point, grabbing a 5-4 lead in the set and creating an opportunity to serve for the set, the match and the team match. However, Brichackova broke at love to put the set back on serve at 5-5. Stone then broke serve thanks to back-to-back double faults to go up 6-5 and once again serve for the match. Brichackova continued the string of service breaks, making it 6-6 and sending Set 2 into a seven-point tiebreak.
  • Brichackova went up two mini-breaks in the tiebreak by taking the first three points, but then Stone broke serve twice in succession to cut the lead to 3-2. Eastern Michigan broke serve again to lead 4-2 as the players switched sides of the court, but Stone bounced back by holding serve to make it 4-3. Eastern Michigan held on both serves to create set point, then Brichackova broke serve to win the tiebreak 7-3 and send the match to a third set with the team match still deadlocked 3-3.
  • The first six games of Set 3 were all on serve, but Brichackova picked up the first break of the set to go up 4-3. Stone broke right back to make it 4-4, then EMU broke again to go up 5-4 and serve for the match. Stone lengthened the streak of broken serves to extend the match and tie the set at five games apiece. Eastern Michigan broke serve yet again to go up 6-5 and serve for the match, but Stone came through by breaking serve to tie the set at six and send the third set into a tiebreak as the marathon match continued.
  • Stone dominated the third-set tiebreak, rattling off six straight points to win the breaker at  love, capturing an instant classic of a match 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(0).

Inside the Matches

  • Czerwonka recorded her 17th singles win this season and the 80th of her career, the first player in program history to reach that mark. She is one singles win away from cracking the program’s single-season top 10 as an 18th victory would put her in a four-way tie for ninth in the single-season section of the record book.
  • Valpo has not dropped a match at No. 2 singles this season. Czerwonka and Silva have combined to go 11-0 when playing No. 2, showcasing the fact that the program boasts two players who are both No. 1 singles caliber.  
  • Stone’s singles win was her ninth of the season, while Stone and Sobieski moved into double figures in doubles by teaming up for their 10th win as a pair. Sobieski snagged her 12th singles win, making it four Beacons with at least a dozen.
  • Amazingly, five out of Valpo’s last six matches have been decided by the slimmest of margins at 4-3. Valpo is 3-2 in those five matches and overall the team has won four of its last five.
  • For comparison, Valpo had lost its most recent match against Eastern Michigan prior to Sunday by a 6-1 score in 2022.

Up Next

The Beacons (7-4) will finish out a stretch of four straight home matches on Saturday, Feb. 24 by hosting Northern Illinois at 2 p.m. at The Courts of NWI.