SIUE Tennis remains undefeated this season after securing a win over Bradley University. The team is now nationally ranked, the first time in the program’s D1 history.
Head Coach Adam Albersten said it was their largest crowd ever to come out and support them. Albertsen said that it was really awesome to see all the student-athletes, from volleyball and basketball to softball and track, as well as other community members come out and support the team.
“I decided what's better than free pizza so I bought a bunch of pizzas and everybody showed up,” Albertsen said. “You could tell our team was fed off that, the atmosphere was electric. They're looking around and seeing people yelling and cheering for them.”
The match started with doubles play, and the Cougars secured that point, boosting their confidence going into the singles matches. Jill Lambrechts, a redshirt sophomore, and Maria Thibault, a redshirt junior, won their match 6-1 while Jordan Schifano, sophomore, and Vanessa Reinicke, a redshirt junior, secured their match at 6-3, which gave SIUE the doubles point.
“Getting that doubles point, let us kind of find our way in singles. It obviously gets some momentum going up. We knew this was going to be a tight match. It just lets everybody kind of settle into singles and kind of feel good going into the match,” Albertsen said.
The singles play was tight, but the Cougars pulled through. Lambrechts earned her eight-consecutive single wins this season and SIUE’s second point. Schifano won her singles as well, putting SIUE into a good position to win and remain undefeated. Fabiola Perez, a sophomore, cinched the fourth point in a 6-4, 6-4 win.
SIUE lost to Bradley last year in a tight game, but Perez said she believed it is the hard work on the doubles and the team chemistry they have built that has improved the team’s play.
“[Our team chemistry] really helps us, like we're next to each other. We're supporting each other [through] anything, that makes a really big difference,” Perez said.
Albertsen said they knew it was going to be a tight game against Bradley but it was exciting to see the girls respond well and play well. He said that the support from the community was amazing and definitely helped shift the girls into a winning mindset.
“We knew this was gonna be one of our tougher matches early on, and it was exciting to kind of see us respond well and play well,” Albersten said. “Just having that support from our own student-athletes is special. It makes this place really, really special.”