CSU tennis caps fall season with success at Bronco Super Challenge

Michelle Gould

The Colorado State tennis team finished off the fall season in fashion at Western Michigan’s annual three-day Bronco Super Challenge in Kalamazoo, Mich. last weekend.

CSU joined Cleveland State, Depaul, Indiana, Notre Dame and host Western Michigan in the tournament field. With appearances from ACC and Big Ten teams, the tournament was much larger in comparison to the Jon Messick Invite three weeks prior.

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“We knew of the big schools we were playing, but we didn’t think about it. We’re as good as them, too,” sophomore Alyssa Grijlva said. “Our coach never tells us who we’re about to play because we’re just as good as them. He doesn’t want us to get psyched out.” 

tennis player winds up to return the ball
Sophomore Alyssa Grijalva positions herself to send a shot back to her opponents during her doubles match at the Jon Messick Invitational on Oct 8. (Joshua Contreras | Collegian)

Day one of the tournament ended with a win from the powerful duo of Grijalva and freshman Priscilla Palermo. The two secured a doubles victory after edging out Alina Kuzmenkova and Marija Jovicic from DePaul University, 6-2. Junior Emily Kolbow and freshman Emily Luetschwager captured a pair of doubles wins, beating tandems from DePaul and Cleveland State.

After three flights of doubles, Luetschwager and freshman Emma Corwin claimed victories in singles play. Luetschwager managed a 6-0, 6-4 win against Aspasia Avgeri from DePaul. Corwin followed suit, beating Indiana’s Pauline Jahren 7-5, 6-4.

Given the long flight to the Midwest, the Rams endured a difficult acclimation period throughout the first day of the tournament. 

“The first day was rough for all of us,” Palermo said.

“The altitude change, moving our feet more. That was the most challenging,” Grijalva added. “We had to get adjusted to the time change, too.” 

Day two began with Palermo and Grijalva defending their winning streak against Western Michigan, winning 6-2. Luetschwager and Kolbow followed the trend, winning their final doubles match over the Broncos, 6-4.

With singles following, Luetschwager, Corwin, Kolbow, Palermo and Grijalva managed wins over competitors from Indiana, Western Michigan and Cleveland State. With one day left, the Rams fought through fatigue to finish the tournament strongly.

The final day of the Bronco Super Challenge ended with a handful of victories in singles flights. Grijalva finished the tournament with a win over Indiana, 6-2, 7-5. Then, Corwin defeated Cleveland State 6-0, 6-2 while sophomore Solene Crawley bested Indiana by a score of 6-3, 7-5. 

“We had tough competition, the toughest we had played all year,” assistant coach Erica Medlin said. “For us to get some good wins was very important.”

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“We realized how close we are to the Big Ten schools. We’re more prepared this year than last year for conference,” Grijalva noted.

For many freshmen on the team, the fall season proved to be beneficial in their growth as new Division I players.

“The freshmen are doing awesome,” Medlin said. “All three have come in and competed well right away. They have really stuck out.” 

With two months to prepare for the spring season, the Rams focus is on team inclusivity and finding passion in the game.

“As a whole, we have to work on higher expectations and finding ways to achieve them,” Medlin added. “We’ve got to step up our intensity in each other, and bring out the fire in each other.” 

The Rams open their spring season on Jan. 20 at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Collegian sports reporter Michelle Gould can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @michellegouldd.