The Valparaiso University women’s tennis team closed out a successful fall campaign in victorious fashion on Saturday at the Valpo Tennis Complex. The Beacons bested visiting Grand Valley State 5-2 in a dual match on a brisk but sunny autumn day in Northwest Indiana.
How It Happened
- Sisters Olivia and Claire Czerwonka (Kenosha, Wis. / Saint Joseph Catholic Academy) enjoyed a lopsided victory in doubles play, blitzing the GVSU combo of Canellopoulos/Leko 6-1. Claire and Olivia dropped the opening game before rattling off six straight to take the match.
- While the Czerwonka sisters were off the court in efficient fashion, the other two doubles matches were lengthy affairs. GVSU pulled out a 6-4 victory at No. 3, so the doubles point hinged on a tight battle at the No. 2 slot.
- In that second doubles match, Amanda Tabanera (Valencia, Calif. / Valencia) and Isabella Schoolcraft (Bargersville, Ind. / Center Grove) were down 5-3 with the GVSU tandem of Taylor Barrett and Vera Griva serving for the match. Tabanera and Schoolcraft broke serve, then rattled off four straight points to hold and tie the match 5-all. The Lakers held serve to go up 6-5, then Valpo came from down 15-30 to get a hold and force a set tiebreak. The Beacon tandem dominated the tiebreak 7-1 to win the match 7-6 and secure the doubles point for the hosts.
- Fresh off winning the Missouri Valley Conference Flight 2 Singles championship six days earlier, Olivia moved up to the No. 1 spot in the singles lineup and cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Taylor Barrett.
- Tabanera also enjoyed a straight-set win in singles, besting Vasileia Griva 6-4, 6-1. Mia Bertino (Lockport, Ill. / Joliet Catholic) delivered a strong performance at No. 5, dropping just two games in a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Olivia Huang. Bertino’s win solidified the team victory.
- The No. 2 singles match between Claire and Marija Leko was a tightly-contested battle. After breaking serve to go up 6-5 in Set 1, Claire served for the set but Leko broke on deuce point to force a set tiebreak. Claire bounced back to prevail in the tiebreak 7-5. In the second set, GVSU was serving for the set leading 5-4, but Claire rattled off three straight games to take the set 7-5 and clinch the match.
- The lone three-set showdown of the day occurred at No. 4, where Demi Jhaveri (Westlake, Ohio / Westlake) fell to Marily Canellopoulos 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. They played a traditional third set as Bertino’s match-clinching win finished shortly after the third set got underway. At No. 6 singles, Schoolcraft retired due to illness.
Inside the Matches
- Olivia finished an impressive fall season with an 11-2 record and is up to 35 career singles victories.
- Claire’s win was the 48th singles success of her career. She sits in eighth on the program’s all-time singles wins list and is one victory away from tying Jill Dierberg (2002-2006) for seventh.
- The Czerwonka sisters captured seven doubles wins during the fall season. Olivia now owns 32 career doubles triumphs, while Claire upped her program-record total to 59. They closed out the fall with four straight wins.
- Tabanera and Schoolcraft secured their sixth doubles success of the fall and closed the autumn slate on a three-match doubles winning streak.
- Tabanera finished the fall with seven singles wins, second on the team behind only Olivia. Her triumph on Saturday marked her third straight.
- Valpo enjoyed a combined winning record in singles play during the fall, going a collective 41-40. Every player on the roster notched at least four singles successes.
- The Valpo victory marked a turnaround from the most recent meeting between the two teams, as Grand Valley State prevailed 4-3 on March 4, 2020 in Orlando. That match proved to be the final contest of the season, as the remainder of the schedule was unexpectedly wiped out by a global pandemic.
- Olivia played the same opponent as she did in that 2020 match. She prevailed in both instances, this time in a pair of one-sided sets after wining on a third-set tiebreak the last time she faced off with Barrett. The No. 1 doubles match was also a rematch, with the Czerwonka sisters winning 7-1 this time after eking out a 7-5 victory in 2020. The Schoolcraft/Tabanera win avenged a 2020 defeat to half of the same GVSU doubles combo.
- Olivia’s win came over Barrett, a first-team all-conference performer last season. Claire topped Leko, who received second-team all-conference a year ago.
- The victory came over a Lakers team that went 14-5 last season, 18-3 in 2019-20 and 23-5 in 2018-19 en route to a Division-II NCAA Tournament berth.
Valpo will begin the spring season on Saturday, Jan. 15 by hosting IUPUI at The Courts of Northwest Indiana.