Women's tennis kicks off fall play with UTC Baras Classic

On Sept. 28, the Mercer University Women’s Tennis team headed to Chattanooga to compete in the 28th Annual UTC Steve Baras Classic. This tournament was the first time the Bears competed in the 2011-2012 campaign. With many newcomers, the team looked to show well in order to prepare for their competitive season.
On day one, Sophomore Amanda Bertani was the only Bear to pull out a victory in singles play.  Playing in the Silver flight, Bertani won her first match against Atlantic Sun foe Kelsey Kennedy of Kennesaw State. Bertani defeated Kennedy in straight sets (6-0, 6-3). Bertani then went on to the quarterfinal match playing yet another Atlantic Sun conference member in Stetson’s Maya Stauffer-MacDowell. Bertani was unable to keep up her winning ways losing in straight sets (6-1, 6-1). In doubles play, the twosome of Jennifer Lada and Lucy Payrat played their way to a victory against the North Alabama pair of MacKenzie Bishop and Victoria Rees winning by a score of 8-3. Melanie Schumilas, Katherine Cooper, Lada and Payrat each lost in their singles matches, moving them to play in the consolation bracket on day two.
Day two again saw victory for the combination of Payrat and Lada. They defeated the Xavier University pair of Kally Alkire and Ally Westing, advancing to the finals of the doubles gold bracket where they would vie for a championship. In consolation play, Payrat won both of her matches in order to advance to the finals of the Gold consolation bracket. Also winning in consolation play was Schumilas. With the win, she advanced to the semifinals of consolation play losing to Kennesaw State’s Tess Lagerkvist (6-0, 6-1). Lada and Cooper lost in their consolation matches.
On the third and final day of the UTC Steve Baras Classic, Lucy Payrat worked her way to victory in the Gold bracket consolation final. Payrat made work of her opponent Mackenzie Bishop of North Alabama winning 6-4 and 6-3. In the doubles match, Payrat and Lada clashed with Kaylene Chadwell and Jenna Nurik of host UT-Chattanooga, and eventually fell by an 8-5 margin. In the Platinum doubles flight, the MU tandem of sophomore Amanda Bertani and newcomer Melanie Schumilas brought home the consolation bracket title when their opponents from Lipscomb were unable to compete due to an injury.
“I am very happy with the performance of my teammates. We came out hard and everyone got some valuable playing experience, which should help us when we begin our competitive season in January,” said Lada.
All in all, the Bears had a more than successful outing, gaining valuable experience for a very young squad seeking to improve upon previous performances in conference play and eventually achieve what every team dreams and hopes for: a berth into the national tournament. The next action for the Bears takes place on Oct. 21 when they head to the ITC Regional.