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Women's tennis ready to compete for NEC title

Women's tennis ready to compete for NEC title

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The second-seeded Bryant University women's tennis team begins its quest for a Northeast Conference title on Friday morning against seventh-seeded Wagner College at Mercer County Park in West Windsor, N.J.

Bryant and Wagner are scheduled to square off no earlier than 11:30 a.m. on Friday morning.

The Bulldogs will be competing in the NEC Tournament for the sixth-straight season and will be trying to advance to the semi-finals for the fifth-straight year. Bryant advanced to back-to-back NEC title matches in 2015 and 2016, winning its only league title in 2015.

Bryant will enter the NEC Tournament playing some of its best tennis of the season. The Black and Gold won each of their last three matches to close out the regular season.

"We are hoping to continue that momentum this weekend," head coach Barb Cilli said. "We changed our style of play and our results are proof that we made changes that have moved us in the right direction. We want to continue to play smart tennis, taking care of our strokes and playing the best tennis we can."

The Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 9-8 record in dual matches and received contributions from the entire lineup throughout the year. Bryant's biggest strength, however, will be the experience its senior class will bring to the courts.

Bryant's quartet of Ashanti Campfield (Stratford, Conn.), Stefanie Arroyo (Gurabo, Puerto Rico), Nina Luiggi (Nottingham, England) and Linnea Sjoberg (Stockholm, Sweden) will all be making their fourth appearance at the championships. The four are a combined 15-3 in singles play and 19-2 in doubles play.

"Our strength is the experience and leadership of our seniors," Cilli said. They've been here three times, they know what it takes to be successful in this tournament and they've felt the sting of losing by a point. We've worked hard this year improving in the areas we fell short last year and the year before and I have to say, it's paying off. We've had a great season so far and our hope is that we will continue to build on that through this weekend."

The Bulldogs' hottest player entering the tournament, however, will be a freshman, Arianna Oropeza (Weston, Fla.). Oropeza is a two-time NEC Rookie of the Week and even swept player and rookie of the week honors once. She enters her first NEC Tournament with a six-match winning streak and a 12-3 record in doubles play.

All four seniors also enter the weekend on winning streaks, with Campfield having won each of her last four. In her career, Campfield is 5-2 in singles play and a perfect 6-0 in doubles. This season, she has teamed primarily with Arroyo, going 6-9 on the year.

Bryant's top doubles team has been Luiggi and Sjoberg, as the duo has posted a 8-5 record on the season.

"Everyone wants to end on a high note," Cilli said. "But we're not really talking about it. We don't want to get caught up in thinking about results right now, just competing the best we can, one match at a time."