Rock tennis eyes PSAC Championships

The White and Green prepare for the individual championships in Bloomsburg this weekend

Published by Matthew Glover, Date: October 13, 2023
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This weekend Rock Women’s tennis will travel back to Bloomsburg to begin the 2023 PSAC Tennis Individual Championships on Sunday. 

Complete brackets for the tournament were released on the morning of Oct. 6. The tournament was originally set for Oct. 7, but was delayed one day due to an inclement weather forecast.  

Three athletes from The White and Green qualified for singles in the tournament, and one pair qualified for doubles. 

Amaia Balaguer Brau from Benicarlo, Spain seeded third in singles in the PSAC tournament. This comes after her after semifinal appearance at the ITA Atlantic Regional Tournament almost one month ago. This will be her first PSAC Championship appearance after transferring to SRU from St. Thomas Aquinas in New York. 

“I’m not going to take anything away from her saying that [her talent] is a surprise,” head coach Matt Meredith said. “It’s not. She’s a good player, and we’re lucky to have her.” 

Balaguer Brau began the ITA Regionals with a victory on day one against Mercyhurst University’s Sara Bertolez Puente and on day two against Charleston’s Claudia Pastor. She went on to beat Fairmont State’s Maria Fonseca in the round of 16 and Charleston’s Sophia Krasikova in the qualifier before falling to Mercyhurst’s Kayla Dean in the semifinal.

Team captain Gabriela del Val del Toro from Barcelona secured a 5-8 seeding in the tournament. Last year, she fell to IUP’s Karolin Kirchtag, who has since left the team, in the semifinals. 

Del Val del Toro opened the ITA Regionals with wins against West Chester’s Delany Tingle and Charleston’s Ria Hondiasvilli. She fell to Katy Graydon from Indiana (Pa.) in the round of 16.

Dari Sakhanova from Moscow, last year’s PSAC West Freshman of the Year, also seeded in the 5-8 position. 

In the ITA Regionals, Sakhanova defeated Fairmont State’s Jada Okoye on day one then fell to Mercyhurst’s Kiersten Brown on day two.

Sakhanova and Balaguer Brau also competed in doubles but fell to West Virginia State’s Julia Daszkiewicz and Daniela Fretel.

Del Val del Toro will be joined by her co-captain Nicole Kempton in the third doubles seed. Kempton, the tallest player from the team, is the only non-international player. 

“[Kempton] has the game for it,” Meredith said. “She has a big serve, she serves-and-volleys. She can handle playing number one, so I’m very confident in her doing that.”

“And yes, it is a surprise having a freshman at that level,” he added. 

Del Val del Toro and Kempton also competed as doubles in the ITA Regionals. They beat Bluefield State’s Shreya Chakraorty and Juliana Jimenez on day one before falling to Charleston’s Michelle Connor and Sara Martinez on day two.

The PSAC Championship Tournament will open with women’s and men’s doubles at 10 a.m. at the Burt Reese Tennis Center. 

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Matt is a senior majoring in Strategic Communication and Media with a concentration in converged journalism and minor in Political Science. He enrolled at SRU as a junior in the spring 2021 semester and contributed to The Rocket before becoming the news editor in fall 2022. Before that, he wrote sports articles for The Penn at IUP. Matt spends his free time playing music, socializing with friends, and playing with his cats, Max and Odele. Matt is graduating in December and is currently actively seeking employment.

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