Men’s, women’s tennis starting play

Sophomore Kylie Bilchev and junior Ava Hrastar celebrate together during this year’s opening weekend of play. The duo is a top-ten ranked doubles pairing and picked up a win this weekend against UNC’s top pair. // Photo courtesy of GTAA

Tech’s women tennis team kicked off their fall season this past weekend in the Debbie Southern Fall Classic. The expectations of the women’s program are high given that junior Carol Lee (16), sophomore Kylie Bilchev (73) and junior Ava Hrastar (118) are all in the ITA preseason ranking. 

The doubles pairings are predicted to be  even better with Lee and sophomore Kate Sharabura being ranked first in the country and Hrastar and Bilchev being ranked ninth in the country. 

With these lofty expectations, the team performed well in their opening weekend. In doubles, seniors Monika Dedaj and Rosie Garcis Gross won the doubles flight four title by rolling the Clemson duo of Jenna Thompson and Alexandra Anttila with a score of 8-1. The other doubles pairing of junior Ruth Marsh and freshman Alejandra Cruz ended up defeating Vanderbilt’s Amy Stevens and Sonya Macavei by a score of 8–4 in the consolation round.

On top of all of the doubles success, the singles results were similarly strong. Dedaj faced off against Sophia Patel of North Carolina and would lose in the three sets, 0-6, 6-3, 3-6. Marsh would cruise through her final consolation match over Marissa Pennings of Furman in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. In the other singles matches, Bilchev was defeated in her final match to number 42 Ayana Akli of South Carolina in straight sets. Cruz also lost in straight sets despite being close, 6-7, 4-6. Sharabura lost in a tight three set affair, 2-6, 6-2, 6-7. 

The next tournament that the women’s team will play in is the ITA All-American Championships on the week of Oct. 3. The team as a whole would like to build on this performance and continue to improve.

The men’s team will start off their season this weekend in Nashville with the Commodore Invitational. The hopes for some of the men’s team are also high. Junior Andres Martin is ranked No. 20 in the ITA preseason after ending the 2021-2022 season at No. 37. Junior Marcus McDaniel joined Martin on the ITA preseason ranking being ranked No. 97 in the country. 

On top of being individually strong, the doubles partnership of Martin and McDaniel has led to them being ranked No. 17 after finishing off last year at No. 37. Over the summer, Martin competed in the Atlanta Open and received a wild card entry into the main draw of the tournament where he did well. In the first round, Martin defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight sets and would eventually get knocked out in the next round by Adrian Mannarino. 

Overall, the women’s team has gotten off to a strong start to the season and would like to continue to improve their performance throughout the season and hopefully propel themselves into the next tournament in a few weeks. The men’s team have yet to kickstart their season, but their hopes are high with multiple players ranked within the top 100 when they begin play later this month.