The Valparaiso University women’s tennis team emerged victorious on Saturday afternoon, collecting a 4-3 victory in a tight match with host Northern Illinois at Chick Evans Fieldhouse in DeKalb, Ill. The Brown & Gold won the doubles point before the two teams split the six singles matches, allowing Valpo to win back-to-back spring dual matches for the first time in three years. This marked the program’s first victory over a Mid-American Conference opponent in 16 seasons.
How It Happened
- The first doubles match to finish came at the top position, where Claire and Olivia Czerwonka (Kenosha, Wis. / Saint Joseph Catholic Academy) downed Maria Potsi and Lara Slisko 6-1.
- The No. 2 doubles match reached its completion with Valpo falling 6-3, so the doubles point hinged on a tight battle at the No. 3 position. As it would turn out, that match made all the difference in the overall match’s outcome.
- Demi Jhaveri (Westlake, Ohio / Westlake) and Allison McConnell (Westland, Mich. / Churchill) dug deep to pull out a victory in a tiebreaker at No. 3, topping Iulliia Dmitrieva and Paula Veyhle 7-6(5) to allow Valpo to win the doubles point for the second consecutive match.
- The Huskies (5-5) quickly leaped ahead in the team score by winning the first two singles matches to finish. Valpo fell 6-3, 6-3 at No. 3 and 7-6(3), 6-2 at No. 1, allowing the hosts to build up a 2-1 lead with four courts left in action.
- Olivia Czerwonka put the finishing touches on her win over Anastasia Rakita at second singles in a pair of close sets, 6-4, 7-6(2). Valpo went up 3-2 in the team score when Mia Bertino (Lockport, Ill. / Joliet Catholic) closed out a 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Fernanda Naves at No. 4.
- A tight No. 5 singles match went 7-6(4), 6-4 in NIU’s favor, so the team outcome rested upon No. 6 singles. Just as she did alongside McConnell in a key doubles match, Jhaveri came through with an equally-vital win at No. 6 singles. She held off Peyhle 7-5, 6-3 to allow Valpo to sew up the 4-3 win.
Inside the Match
- Valpo has won back-to-back matches in spring dual match play for the first time since winning at Lewis and at Chaminade University of Honolulu in late February and early March of 2018. A victory on Sunday would give the team its first three-match winning streak within a spring dual season since March 2007.
- The 4-3 victory marked Valpo’s first match decided by the slimmest of margins since a 4-3 defeat to Grand Valley State on March 4, 2020 in what ended up being the final match of the season. This was the team’s first 4-3 win since beating Green Bay on April 14, 2017. Valpo had dropped each of its last six 4-3 decisions.
- Valpo won the doubles point for the second straight match after not registering the doubles point in any of the first eight matches of the season. The Brown & Gold are 2-0 when winning the doubles point this season.
- This marked Valpo’s first victory over Northern Illinois on record. Valpo had lost all five meetings since the turn of the century and had also gone 0-4 against the Huskies in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Valpo was shut out in seven of those nine defeats and dropped its most recent matchup with NIU 5-2 on Feb. 17, 2018.
- This marked Valpo’s first victory against a member of the Mid-American Conference since a 5-2 win at Toledo on March 17, 2005.
- The Valpo victory snapped a three-match winning streak for Northern Illinois. The Huskies had won four of their previous five matches with wins over Milwaukee, Chicago State, Eastern Illinois and Lewis. This Valpo victory came over an NIU team that went 12-6 last season.
- Claire earned her 45th career doubles win, eighth in program history and now just one away from a tie for sixth.
Valpo (3-7) will attempt to make it a three-match winning streak on Sunday by hosting Chicago State at 11 a.m. CT at The Courts of Northwest Indiana. The Cougars are 1-4 on the year and have losses to Missouri Valley Conference schools Bradley and Illinois State as well as UIC and Northern Illinois.