Bulldogs open spring slate Saturday

Bulldogs open spring slate Saturday


SMITHFIELD, R.I. – After being tabbed to finish third in the 2013 Northeast Conference Preseason Coach's Poll, the Bryant University women's tennis team will look to live up to expectations when they open their spring season on Saturday.

The Black and Gold posted a perfect 4-0 mark against NEC foes in 2011-12, including huge wins over NEC Tournament finalists Quinnipiac and Fairleigh Dickinson, and are ready for their chance to compete for a postseason berth.

"After the season we had last year we very excited for the opportunity to compete in the NEC Tournament this season," said Bryant head coach Barbara Cilli. "Of course, we are not about to rest on our laurels, but we are ready to work hard at all facets of our game."

With the departure of graduating senior Claudia Hidalgo, the Bulldogs will lean on their experienced senior class and deep roster to weather the loss of the former Northeast Conference Women's Tennis Player of the Year.

"We are really going to rely on our seniors to lead this team without Claudia," added Cilli. "We've won matches in the past when we lost at number one singles and our depth is a big reason why."

Seniors Marcela Brandao (Santo Andre, Brazil) and Lucy Bird (Hamilton, New Zealand), and junior Stephanie Smyers (Pittsburgh, Pa.) will be counted on to fill the void left by Hidalgo in the coming weeks. Bird posted an impressive 5-0 mark in singles matches during the fall, while Brandao and Smyers each went 1-0 in their matches at the first singles position.

Sophomores Devlin-Ann Ammendola (Massapequa, N.Y.) and Rosie Bird (Hamilton, New Zealand) will also play a large role for Bryant this upcoming fall. Ammendola has shown no signs of a sophomore slump, going 4-1 in dual matches in singles action thus far, while remaining a perfect 5-0 in doubles play with Brandao.

As a team, the Bulldogs have been very strong in the ever-important doubles action, boasting an impressive 12-3 overall mark.

"Matches are going to come down to the doubles point, and as a team we need to be ready for that," said Cilli.

The Bulldogs, who closed out the fall sporting a 4-1 overall mark (1-0 in the NEC), including three 7-0 victories, will open their 2013 spring slate against Siena on Saturday (12 p.m.) at the Ludlow Tennis Club in Ludlow, Mass.

For all the latest news on the Bryant University women's tennis team, visit BryantBulldogs.com.