Women’s Tennis captures passionate win over K-State


Preston Zbroszczyk

Graduate student Lenka Antonijevic celebrates with her teammates after securing her singles victory against Kansas State during Friday night’s, 4-0 win.

After starting the season 1-5, DePaul women’s tennis was looking to avoid a five-game losing skid turning into six. With a win over Kansas State on Friday, the squad eluded disaster and improved to 2-5.  

Head coach Marisa Arce put out her best combination of doubles partners to go up against Kansas State in the first part of the match. 

Led by graduate student Lenka Antonijevic and sophomore Eleanor Nobbs, the Blue Demons swept each of the three doubles matches. Freshman Hannah Smith and senior partner Yuliya KIzelbasheva – along with junior Greta Carbone and graduate student Maddie Yergler – all defeated their Wildcat opponents. 

“We play three courts of doubles, and whichever team wins two out of the three, that team gets one point,” Acre said. “We then play six courts of singles and each court is worth one point. So, it’s a best of seven match.” 

With entire roster featuring just one U.S. born player, the Blue Demons are very culturally diverse. 

Having returned five athletes from last season’s team and welcoming three new faces to the roster, Smith – the newcomer from England – has felt a true bond since joining the team while being so far away from home. 

“I think that’s what’s so unique about this team, is that every single one of us is pretty different,” Smith said. “Just having that team culture, which you don’t usually get with every team is so much more special. We are basically family, [which] is the best part.” 

For the past nine seasons, prior to Arce taking over in 2019, DePaul has played in every Big East Championship match. 

Last season, the Blue Demons fell short to Xavier in the Big East title game. Since then, DePaul kept that match as a reminder and used it in their approach for this season. 

With the singles competition underway, the six courts had their own level of emotion and intensity. 

On one court, you could hear a screaming match between each point won in Russian and Polish. On court two, it was German, on court three, it was Serbian. All six courts had the passion and intensity that was shown by these women, which represented what this sport meant to them. 

If it wasn’t the women getting excited or trying to pick themselves up after a point, it was all six courts yelling “Let’s go DePaul”. The chatter was trying to pick each other up while everyone was focused on their own match. 

“You’re not really allowed to speak in your own language during matches, you cannot talk to your opponent, but you can do some cheer,” Kizelbasheva said. “I personally use [Russian] more, because it means more for me. If I say ‘Davai’ it means more to me than ‘let’s go’ because it’s my own language, and affects me more.” 

With matches going back-and-forth for hours, Kizelbasheva was the first to get the job done, defeating her opponent and picking up another point for DePaul. 

Carbone defeated her opponent in two sets, setting things up for any Blue Demon to finish the next match and walk out with a 4-0 sweep. 

After losing the first set, Smith was able to stay motivated. She came back, winning two straight sets and letting out a large amount of enthusiasm after winning the set point. 

“I know this team is capable of winning the Big East,” Arce said. “The Big East is good, there is a lot of parity, and I think there are a lot of teams who could win it. I don’t think the championship is going to come down to tennis skills, it’s going to come down to our intensity, our discipline, our belief and heart. They had a really good showing today, but you know, we just got to do it every time we step on the court.” 

Early in the season, the Blue Demons are 1-1 in matches played at home. Those are either at XS Tennis and Education Foundation, their outdoor courts, or at College Park Athletic Club in Deerfield, the team’s indoor facility. 

DePaul will host its first Big East matchup of the season Sunday, Feb. 19, against the Butler Bulldogs. Last season, DePaul defeated Butler on three separate occasions: twice in the regular season and most recently in the first round of the Big East Tournament on April 22.