PEORIA, IL – Bradley Tennis will try to set the national attendance mark for the 2017 season when the Braves host Saint Louis and IUPUI inside the University’s Renaissance Coliseum March 25 as part of the inaugural Bradley Tennis Coliseum Classic, according to an announcement today by fourth-year Bradley head coach Matt Tyler.
Utilizing a modular, synthetic sports surface provided by Kewanee, IL-based Flex Court International, the matches versus Saint Louis (9 a.m.) and IUPUI (6 p.m.) will be played on three courts inside Renaissance Coliseum’s basketball/volleyball arena. All of the arena’s lower bowl seats will be pushed in to allow room for the three courts, but the facility’s upper level, permanent seating structure still includes 1,983 seats. According to figures published by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association for the organization’s annual Attendance Race, the largest crowd for a women’s tennis dual match during the 10 years of the national competition is 1,032 for a 2016 match between Georgia and Florida.
“I am very excited to give our student-athletes the opportunity to play in a first-class arena like Renaissance Coliseum,” said Tyler. “Traditionally, Bradley Women’s Tennis has not had the ability host a significant number of spectators, so being able to play in the Coliseum allows us to showcase the program and show the community at large what the sport of tennis can be.
“To the best of my knowledge, no collegiate tennis program has attempted to play a dual match in the college or university’s basketball arena,” Tyler added. “We have been working through a silent phase to facilitate this event and I would like to thank everyone who already has pledged their support to give Bradley Tennis a truly unique experience.”
Led by four of the 15 winningest players in the history of Bradley Women’s Tennis, including all-time wins leader Ariel Dechter, Bradley Tennis has produced steady improvements on the court the last two years and the program’s 13 wins last season were the most since 1992-93 (14-7). The Braves also finished 3-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference last season with dual match wins versus Evansville, Missouri State and UNI, and the team’s 4-1 win against rival Illinois State in the MVC Women’s Tennis Championship put Bradley Tennis into the conference tournament semifinals for the first time in program history.
Riding a 4-match winning streak, the Braves (6-3) will conclude their season-long, 6-match homestand this weekend by hosting DePaul (5-6) Saturday at noon and Valparaiso (0-6) Sunday at 3 p.m., both at the Clubs at River City and free to the public.