Sophomore Janice Tjen pumps her fist after winning a point against BYU at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center in Malibu on March 12. Tjen won her doubles match with freshman Savannah Broadus 6-2, before winning her singles match by a commanding 6-0, 6-2 scoreline. Photos by Lucian Himes
No. 6 Pepperdine Women’s Tennis started conference play March 12, with a victory at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center in Malibu, defeating No. 58 BYU by a 7-0 scoreline. The Waves improved to 9-3 with the victory.
Two doubles teams — Junior Anastasia Iamachkine and sophomore Nikki Redelijk and No. 15 freshman Savannah Broadus and sophomore Janice Tjen — earned doubles wins for the Waves. Pepperdine swept the singles matches, with five out of the six ending in straight sets, despite missing a few key players.
“We’re slowly getting better,” Head Coach Per Nilsson said. “We didn’t start off the best this semester, and so our goal has been to improve. I think we slowly are.”
The Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center has been a fortress for the Waves recently; the team hasn’t lost at home since their season-opening match against California on Jan. 22. Having beaten No. 57 Princeton on March 10 by a dominant 6-1 scoreline, the Waves looked to continue their stellar home form.
The Waves’ first win of the day came courtesy of Iamachkine and Redelijk. The pairing went on a five-game tear after going down 2-1 and won the set 6-2.
Broadus and Tjen were the next match to finish. They sprinted to a 4-0 lead before BYU’s Leah Heimulil and Madison Smith fought back and won the next two games. But the Waves steadied themselves and closed out the set 6-2.
“We trust each other a lot, we spend a lot of time together,” Broadus said. “We had chemistry at the start [of the season], but it’s just been getting better and better as we’ve been playing together.”
The third doubles match, featuring junior Lisa Zaar and graduate student Victoria Flores, stopped after the other two matches had finished. Zaar and Flores were down 5-3 to BYU’s Anastasia Abramyan and Yujia Huang at the time.
The Waves rolled through the singles matches in a similar fashion. Tjen put together a dominant display on Court 2 against Abramyan, winning the first set 6-0.
Tjen was superb from the baseline, spraying hard-hit shots around the court to knock her opponent off rhythm.
“I would say I’m more confident,” Tjen said. “But, also, I just don’t think much about who I’m going to play, who’s my opponent, anything like that. I just try to always come out the way I’m supposed to.”
Due to the Waves missing some players, Tjen played higher up the ladder than normal. Graduate student Shiori Fukuda has been out of the lineup for the past three matches and junior Taisiya Pachkaleva missed Saturday’s match because of the flu.
Nilsson said flu-like symptoms affected a number of players throughout the week, and that he’d been concerned whether enough players would be healthy for the BYU match. Fortunately, the Waves fielded a complete team, albeit with somewhat of a different lineup.
“We knew that going into this year we were going to be really deep,” Nilsson said. “On a day like this, when some people are sick, it really helps. But, at the same time, we need all eight to buy in and understand what they need to get better at, otherwise it doesn’t matter how many we have.”
The new spot on the ladder did not daunt Tjen, as she finished her match with assuredness. The second set ended 6-2, and the Waves logged their first singles win of the afternoon.
Broadus followed her doubles partner a short while later, earning a decisive 6-1, 6-0 win on Court 3. Broadus missed the game against Princeton on March 10, which resulted in more changes to the squad lineup.
“I’m part of the team either way,” Broadus said. “I help them either way, if that’s on the court or off the court. The mindset I have going into every match, whether I play or don’t play, is just to be there for my team. And if it’s on the court, that’s fighting, doing my best to get the W for them, and if it’s off the court, then letting my team know I’m there for them and cheering for them.”
Redelijk was the next to come off the courts, finishing off her opponent 6-1, 6-3. Iamachkine took her match 6-3, 6-4, securing the Waves’ victory.
Zaar added to the Waves’ onslaught with a 6-0 second set performance to win her match, and Flores fought back from a set down on Court 4. With the match already decided, Flores and her opponent played a 10-point tiebreak instead of a third set, which Flores won 10-5.
The Waves will seek to defend home court again on March 19, against USC.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Tjen said. “And we’re going to be ready for that.”
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Email Alec Matulka: firstname.lastname@example.org