Coming off two strong home wins last weekend against Stony Brook and Drexel, the UConn tennis team aims to up their win streak to four by the end of the weekend as they take on Rhode Island today at 1 p.m. and Big East rival Providence at 12 p.m. on Sunday. Getting two wins this weekend would put them on a great pace entering the middle of the season.
In their previous two matches, the Huskies took care of business, downing the Stony Brook Seawolves and the Drexel Dragons with relative ease. UConn’s four leaders, Olivia Wright, Isabel Petri Bere, Maria Constantinou and Aleksandra Karamyshev had a great weekend, as they went 9-0 with three unfinished matches. They were truly dominant too, as they only dropped one set combined over the course of a whole weekend of doubles and singles matches, and even that was in an unfinished set. They looked much more comfortable, and their play (as well as the box score) showed it.
Now for their opponents: first up will be the Rhode Island Rams, who hold a middling 4-3 record on the year with no conference play as of yet. They have had a couple impressive wins as well as some close losses, indicating that they are tough to beat and have just ended up on the wrong side of some good meets. Their highest-highs came against Monmouth in their first meet of the year and Providence last weekend, where they beat both squads by an impressive 7-0. Their most recent match, however, is the one that is worth taking the closest look at — a close 3-4 loss to Quinnipiac at home last Sunday. They began the day by getting the doubles point by winning the doubles-1 and doubles-3 matches. However, they faltered in singles, and only two players from the squad managed to secure any wins on the day: Nikki Fernando and Priyanka Shanker. Despite that, a lot of the sets were close, and three of the seven singles matches went to three sets. The Rams are proof that the record and match stats may not necessarily tell the whole story — they can be a very difficult team to defeat.
The second opponent of the weekend will be the Providence Friars, who are really having a rough go of it. They’re 0-6 on the season, even without conference play, and the team hasn’t won a match (exhibition or otherwise) since Sept. 24 of last year. They seem to keep getting beat down by similar or superior competition: they’ve gotten routed by Bryant (0-7), Brown (0-7), Babson (1-6), and Rhode Island (1-6), and their most recent match ended in a heartbreaker, as the Friars couldn’t handle Siena and lost 3-4. Providence played very well in doubles, winning all three of their sets, but couldn’t find the same success on the singles side of things. PC only had two singles winners: Darah Ross and Julia Migliorini. So many poor showings do not bode well for Providence as they head to Manchester, Conn. to take on the Huskies on Sunday.
There is some hope for the Huskies to come through this weekend and double their current win streak. Both of these opponents have a chance to stop the roll of Connecticut, but they will have to fight hard to do so. Despite the advantage they have, UConn should still take these matches seriously as they look to start preparing for tournament season, which is in the not-so-distant future — they’ll want to keep playing at a high level, no matter who is on the other side of the net.