posted on: Thursday September 30, 2010
John Butler ’11/Sports Editor
Although their roster was decimated by illness and injury, the Friars took their show on the road last weekend to the ITA Eastern Championships at West Point, N.Y. The tournament annually attracts 32 highly competitive schools from various conferences, including the Big East, and provides an arena for competition by pitting players against opponents whom they might not otherwise play in regular season matches.
Providence’s wunderkind Marisela Aviles-Duron ’13 continued her record of stellar play this season. She recorded three consecutive wins against the A Singles players from St. John’s, Rhode Island, and Farleigh-Dickinson to advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, Aviles-Duron squared off against Hofstra’s Elena Ivanova, a recent transfer from Michigan State, but lost 6-3, 6-3. Aviles-Duron’s play has been a mainstay for Providence this season.
Perhaps her most impressive showing came in defeating Farleigh-Dickinson’s Elmine Botes after losing the second set. Aviles-Duron came back with a dominant 10-8 win that sealed the victory.
“Mari’s mental game has always been her strength,” said Head Coach Kyle LaBranche. “She’s as tough as nails, and her composure is as good as [that of] anybody I’ve ever worked with.”
Aviles-Duron’s even keel has been a normative factor for this Friar team, which headed into weekend play four starters short due to the flu and other unfortunate setbacks. While the flu seems to have passed, it seems that a shoulder injury might sideline Melanie Albert ’12 for the rest of the fall season.
Nevertheless, Providence’s players rose to the occasion. Maria Clara Bernardez ’14 took her B singles game to three sets, but ultimately fell to Connecticut’s Alexa Gregory. Ayushi Sinha ’11 in C Singles played well, but was up against some stiff competition.
“Ayushi played well, but she got a very tough draw,” said Coach LaBranche. “She played a very good player in the first round and then her first consolation match was the two seed.”
The good news from the ITA is that Providence is forcing competitive matches against teams who were far from reach in previous years.
“It’s early, so the progress we’re seeing is from last year,” said Coach LaBranche. “When you add a player to the top of your lineup it moves everybody down. Mari is playing great, so the team is definitely going in the right direction. The next step is to start beating [the new competition].” Providence was scheduled to play Rhode Island on Tuesday, Sept. 28, but that match has been rescheduled due to rain. The Friars return to action on Thursday, Sept. 30, at home against Hartford.