Last weekend, the women’s tennis team did more than simply host the ITA New England Regional Tournament. They captured both the singles and doubles titles in a very strong field with impressive performances from a variety of players. Standout captain Selma Kikic ’02 was the star of the weekend with her impressive play in both the singles and doubles competitions.
The last thing that top-seeded Kikic wanted to do in this tournament was to lose to Amherst’s Stephanie Fong. Having beaten Fong four times prior to last weekend, Kikic knew that she would have to play well in every game to get a fifth win.
“I have never lost to her before, and I put a lot of pressure on my self to win today,” said Kikic. At the end of the three-day tournament, the much-anticipated fifth meeting between the two would occur with Kikic defending her tournament title in the championship match.
On the road to the singles final, Kikic dominated her first three opponents with convincing 6-1, 6-0 wins in each match. In her tenth match of the weekend, she still looked strong and energetic against Fong, garnering a 5-3 lead in the first set. Then came the first signs of the fatigue and perhaps some nerves. “I had three set points and I just couldn’t finish it. I was too tentative and I started to play into her game,” said Kikic.
The early mistakes didn’t faze her and after dropping the first set 6-7 (4), Kikic came roaring back in the final two sets to win 6-0, 6-2. “I’m really excited with the way I played,” added Kikic. “It wasn’t always my best tennis, but I was able to keep my head in the game.”
Also looking impressive in the singles competition this weekend were Julie Mallory ’04 and Brittany Binet ’05. Mallory showed her consistency by winning 6-1, 6-1 in her opening match. She followed up with two more impressive victories of 6-1, 6-0, and 6-2, 6-1. “I’m very impressed with how much she has improved her game. She’s come a long way since last year. She is a great leader out there,” said Kikic of Mallory. Even with her improved game, Mallory could not get by the second seed Diana Goldman from Trinity (6-4, 4-6, 6-3).
Struggling at times, but never giving up was Binet who also won some hard fought matches last weekend. She triumphed 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 in her first match, 6-4, 6-3 in her second match, and again 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 before bowing out to Bowdoin’s Alexis Bawden.
Only a first year, Binet certainly had a fantastic tournament. “She has the right mentality, a ton of energy, and is a very positive player. I am impressed by her maturity and composure,” said Kikic of Binet. “She’s going to do some great things in the years to come.” Rain delays and some nerves got the best of Amy Shapiro ’05. Shapiro lost her first match 6-0, 6-1 in very difficult circumstances. The match was played in the field house due to rain, and she was also playing virtually alone. “She didn’t play her best this tournament, but she is a strong player,” noted Kikic.
In doubles competition, the dynamic team of Selma Kikic and Stef Hall ’04 marched through to the championship match 8-5, 8-0, 8-2 with solid play throughout. In the final, Kikic and Hall rose to the challenge of the Amherst duo of Burke and Holt, coming away with an 8-5 win. Despite it being Kikic’s eleventh match in three days, she was able to stay at the top of her game with encouragement from her partner. “We really fed off each other’s energy, and I definitely had to fight through some tiredness. She kept me going and had great confidence in our game. She is a fantastic leader on the court,” said Kikic. Hall showcased her phenomenal abilities with her strong volleys and consistent serves throughout the tournament. Expect big things from this duo in the remaining three weeks of the fall season. “It’s like we are doubles soul mates,” added Kikic, with a laugh.
The tennis team will hardly have a break in the action this coming week with a match at Middlebury on Wednesday, followed by a match at Wesleyan on Saturday and a match at Dartmouth to round out the weekend. The team will play at home Oct. 13 against Amherst.