THREE-PEAT: Women’s tennis win A-10 for third consecutive year

Alonzo Small
Sports Editor

The women’s tennis team after winning its third consecutive Atlantic 10 championship to clinch the program’s 10th straight NCAA bid. Photo provided by VCU Athletics

The top-seeded VCU women’s tennis team won its third-straight Atlantic 10 championship with a 4-0 victory over the University of Massachusetts Minutewoman on Sunday, April 19, earning an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

VCU seniors Cindy Chala and Salome Kvitashvili earned the opening double point with an 8-4 victory over UMass freshman Ana Yrazusta and junior Carol Benito. Next, VCU junior Olga Barshcheuskaya and sophomore Ludvine Burguiere defeated UMass senior Chanel Glasper and sophomore Anna Woosley. In singles competition, wins by Chala and Barshcheuskaya over UMass’ Aarzoo Malik and Arielle Griffin, respectively, put the Rams up 3-0. The Rams clinched the tournament tilte when UMass’ Glasper suffered an Achilles injury in No. 6 play against VCU’s Ana Batiri, causing the UMass team captain to withdraw from the match.

“(UMass) was a good team compared to last year,” Chala said. “But winning the double points was very important. Everyone was playing hard for UMass but we got lucky and we deserved it.”

Played at Boar’s Head Club in Charlottesville, Virginia, the afternoon matchup against UMass (17-5) capped an impressive run in the month of April. The women’s tennis team (16-8) went  7-0 and only gave up three set points (to win a set you must win at least six games) the entire month.

Chala says the run in April helped build the team’s confidence.

“Two weeks ago we played three A-10 teams: George Washington, Richmond and Fordham and we won 5-0, and 4-0 so that really helped our confidence because the beginning of the season was really rough for us,” Chala said.

In the A-10 tournament, the Rams have never lost a singles or doubles match in tournament.

According to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, Chala officially finished the season with an 18-1 record in singles competition and 12-4-1 in doubles competition. The French native battled back injuries all season, but never felt the pressure of being a senior on the team and defending the team’s A-10 crown.

“We were working so hard and when you work hard things go just fine so I just wanted to win as many matches as I could and I think I did that,” Chala said.

The win earned the women’s team its 10th straight NCAA appearance where the Rams await the announcement of their opponent. After competing as a team, Chala and the group will compete in the NCAA Individual Championships.

All told, Chala said she was happy for the team win and her collegiate career overall at VCU.

“It was a bit of nostalgia,” Chala said of the emotions after winning the championship. “You know, you have so many memories and it’s over so you’re a little sad. You want to enjoy every single moment.”

Chala, who plans to further her education and gain her master’s, would like to stay at VCU as a possible graduate assistant.

“I love it here,” she said.  “I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

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