Women’s tennis swept by Bradley University Braves

Bradley Piros , Sports Editor

PEORIA, Ill. – The Western Illinois University women’s tennis team traveled to take on the Bradley University Braves on Saturday. They were swept 4-0, with most of the matches not being finished.

The Leathernecks were heading into Peoria full of confidence, coming off a 7-0 win against the St. Ambrose University Bees last Friday. Western didn’t allow a point in doubles play. Sophomore sisters Mary and Ana Bjelica teamed up in the No. 1 spot while junior Laura Ballesteros teamed up with freshman Megan Tagaloa in the No. 2 spot. Both matches ended in one set, 8-0.

Ana was in the No. 1 singles spot, winning in two sets (6-1, 6-0). Her sister Mary also won in two sets (6-1, 6-1) in the No. 2 spot. Freshmen Camryn Rossa and Tagaloa won their matches, with Ballesteros rounding out the day with a 6-0, 6-0 sweep.

Western had a week to practice and headed into the match against Bradley full of confidence. They knew it would be difficult and can use this as a learning experience in the end.

It was again the Bjelica sisters in the No. 1 doubles spot, and after going down 5-2, the match was never finished. Ballesteros and Tagaloa teamed up again and fell, 6-2. Freshman Anouk Maajong teamed up with Rossa but were shutout 6-0 to end doubles play.

Ana was in the No. 1 singles spot again, but this time around lost in two sets 6-1 and 6-0. The biggest blow was Maajong getting retired 4-0 after going down with an injury. That gave the Braves a 2-0 lead.

Mary played a set and a half losing 7-6 (4) and 3-1. Ballesteros also didn’t finish her match, losing 6-0 and 5-2. The Braves clinched the match when Tagaloa went out in two sets (6-3, 6-4). The final singles match was Rossa, however it was also unfinished (6-3, 0-1)

“That was a much more competitive match than the final score shows. It was also encouraging to see our numbers three, four, five, and six play so hard,” head coach Mirko Bjelica said in an interview with WIU Athletic Communications after the match. “We will continue working in order to prepare better for our conference matches.”

The Leathernecks only have two more non-conference matches before starting Summit League play over spring break. Those two matches are this weekend against the Quincy University Hawks on Friday and the Illinois State University Redbirds on Saturday.

Western will look to turn themselves around and gain some momentum heading into their conference matchups. If you’re looking to catch the Leathernecks in action, their next home match is March 20 against the University of Missouri-St. Louis. That match against UMSL starts at 2 p.m.

Till then, the Leathernecks will turn their attention to Quincy and ISU this weekend. The match against the Hawks starts at 5 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday against the Redbirds.

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