Women’s Tennis rides five-game win streak


DePaul Athletics

Graduate student Valentina Martin serves with her front hand during Sunday’s win over Creighton.

After starting the season 1-5, DePaul women’s tennis finds itself 6-5 and riding a five-game win streak that included a 3-0 week against No. 40 Iowa, Omaha and Creighton. 

Heading into their first match of the week Tuesday against Iowa, the Blue Demons were full of confidence. The squad was unable to sustain its recent success early on, but was able to regain its composure and shocked the Hawkeyes with a walk-off 4-3 win.

In the doubles portion, Iowa struck first with the duo of freshman Pia Kranholdt and fifth-year senior Samantha Mannix, beating DePaul junior Greta Carbone and graduate student Maddie Yergler 6-2.

In a back-and-forth affair with multiple games tied 40-40, freshman Hannah Smith and senior Yuliya KIzelbasheva fell just short by a score of 6-4.

Graduate student Lenka Antonijevic and sophomore Eleanor Nobbs were up 5-3 and tied 40-40 in their ninth set and did not finish the match because Iowa was already in front 2-0.

“Before singles started, I reminded them about the controllables,” head coach Marisa Arce said. “All the non-tennis stuff, we need to make sure we’re doing to the best of our abilities. This allows our tennis to shine.”

In the singles competition, Carbone (6-3), Smith (6-4) and Nobbs (7-5) all won their first sets for DePaul. Carbone did not stop there, winning the second set in a dominant 6-0 fashion to put the Blue Demons on the board. Nobbs also won her match in straight sets (7-5, 6-2).

For the Hawkeyes, freshman Daianne Hayashida responded dominantly, beating DePaul graduate student Valentina Martin in straight sets (6-2, 6-0).

One of the most impressive matches of the day was on the first court. Kizelbasheva lost the first set 6-2 but immediately responded, taking the second set 6-2. In the third set, she outlasted her opponent to win 6-2 and secured the match.

“After the first set, I went behind the tarp to get my thoughts together,” Kizelbasheva said. “I told myself to just forget [it] and start over. The score was now 0-0, and I just needed to win two sets in a row.”

As DePaul and Iowa were tied 3-3, everything came down to the final match between Antonijevic and sophomore Barbora Pokorna. Antonijevic lost the first set 7-6, before coming back to win the second set 6-4.

The third set came down to the wire, with both players giving it their all. Halfway through Antonijevic’s third set, every other match had ended, and all eyes were on her and her adversary. Yet, the extra pressure did not faze Antonijevic.

“I love the feeling of everyone trusting and believing that I can win,” Antonijevic said. “I love playing for the public and audience. The best comes out of me.”

Neither was able to fully pull away from the other, but in the end, Antonijevic was able to outlast her opponent, winning 7-5. After letting out a loud roar of excitement, Antonijevic was mobbed by her teammates as they celebrated the walk-off victory. 

After a hard-earned Blue Demons point, chants of “all day” could be heard, rejuvenating the players.

“I feel so supported,” Antonijevic said. “Our opponents were getting so annoyed at our cheers and if we can get in their heads with just our chants, then we have the advantage.”

Kizelbasheva echoed her sentiments.

“Please keep talking and speaking to me,” Kizelbasheva said. “It makes my thoughts more focused. Coach always tells us if we are feeling nervous, just be loud and cheer for others and give energy. If it’s loud it means everyone is fighting.”

The Blue Demons carried Tuesday’s success into the weekend, beating Omaha on the road Saturday afternoon, 6-1. In the doubles competition, the Blue Demons earned the point thanks to a quick 2-0 win. Carbone and Smith beat their opponents 6-3, while Kizelbasheva and Yergler won 6-0. 

Omaha struck first in the singles competition, with graduate student Jessica Aragon taking down Kizelbasheva in straight sets (6-3, 6-1). Undeterred, the Blue Demons rallied to win the next five singles matches. Graduate students Valentina Martin, Smith, Yergler and Carbone all beat their respective opponents in straight sets. Nobbs lost her first set 6-3, but was able to bounce back, winning her next two sets to secure the point. 

On Sunday in an afternoon road matchup against Creighton, the Blue Demons were able to extend their winning streak to five, beating the Blue Jays 5-2. DePaul was able to outlast Creighton in the doubles competition, winning 2-1. The duos of Carbone and Smith (6-4) and Antonijevic and Nobbs (7-6) were able to win their matches. 

The singles competition saw Yergler make quick work of her opponent in straight sets (6-1, 6-1). Junior’s Bianca Rademacher (6-4, 5-7, 2-0) and Malvika Shulka (7-6, 4-6, 6-2) were able to win their respective matches for Creighton, but it wasn’t enough. Martin (3-6, 6-3, 6-1), Nobbs (2-6, 6-1, 6-3) and Smith (6-3, 4-6, 6-1) were able to outlast their opponents and help secure the Blue Demons the win.

DePaul (6-5) will be back in action on Friday, March 3 as they host Drake (5-3) at the XS Tennis  Village at 1:30 p.m.