Last weekend, women’s tennis traveled to Amherst for Division III New Englands, their final competition of their fall season.
They placed a close second to Amherst 43 to 41, with the third place team a considerable fifteen points behind Williams. Captain Selma Kikic ’02 noted, “Yes, it was very disappointing to come in second, especially behind Amherst, but it has shown us what more needs to be done.”
While 25 teams competed at New Englands, only two, Amherst and Williams had a realistic chance of winning the overall competition which comprises both singles and doubles matches.
Kikic led Williams in singles, winning the first singles final in straight sets 6-0,6-2. There may not be a singles title in Division III that Kikic does not currently own, as she has truly dominated this season in singles play.
Overall, Williams qualified all top six singles players to the finals, edging out Amherst which sent four people to the finals. “I was extremely happy with our singles play. There are some dangerous players at a lot of the competing schools, and the girls met every challenge head-on. We were the only school with all six players in the finals, and that says a lot,” commented Coach Julie Greenwood. Williams went on to win at the number one, number two, and number five slots with Kikic, Julie Mallory ’04 and captain Jasmine Bradley ’02, respectively. Mallory struggled at times in a tough match, but she kept her composure and pulled out a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) win.
“Mallory had a lot of pressure, playing the same Amherst player she had beaten a week ago, and I was really impressed with how she competed,” said Greenwood.
Bradley breezed through the rounds, dominating her opponents from the opening round 6-0, 6-0, then downing each of her final three opponents 6-1, 6-0 to capture the number five singles title.
Speaking to the three singles slots where Williams narrowly lost in the final round, Greenwood notes, “Kate Troy ’04, Stef Hall ’04 and Brittany Binet ’05 fought their hearts out. Stef’s match was three and a half hours! They just came up a little short this weekend.”
Looking to explain the losses, Kikic explained, “All the matches we lost were basically lost on a few big points that we just couldn’t convert to our advantage. I think that this has been something that was getting us down most of the season, but sometimes it takes losing big three set matches before you can know what you need to do.”
In the doubles tournament, the finals at both the number two and three positions pitted Williams and Amherst teams against each other.
While the team was excited to have qualified two of three top tandems to the finals, they were unable to win any of their final matches.
“It was an unfortunate end to the tournament,” said Greenwood. “We entered the doubles semis up a couple points on Amherst and with a ton of momentum and we just didn’t compete with the kind of tenacity that we needed to in order to repeat as New England champions. We have focused a lot this fall on competing as well as we possibly can, and I felt that it was our competitive, rather than physical abilities, which let us down in the doubles.”
The one team to go out in the semifinals was the team of Kikic and Hall at the number one position. After falling behind in an intense match, they managed to fight back to 6-6 in the match to eight games. Unable to capitalize on big points, they eventually fell 8-6 to a duo from Amherst that they had previously never lost to.
“I thought that we all competed with much heart and passion today, but we can’t really win them all,” said Kikic. “It takes immense amount of experience and maturity to be able to play very high level of focused tennis day in, day out and today we just couldn’t stay on top of our games throughout the whole match. I do really think, that each one of us on the team learned something individually and as a team from this tournament that we can take with us into the spring and hopefully come out as an even stronger team.”.
In the doubles finals action, the team of Bradley and Sophomore Kate Troy lost their long three set match 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 and Mallory and Biney fell 6-3,6-1.
This was the last fall season competition for the women’s tennis team, and although it was tough to end it without a win, the team looks very strong and they have a lot to look forward to in the spring.
“It’s tough to end what has been a fantastic fall on a low note but the girls have learned a lot and ready to work hard and come out firing in the spring. We will have two key players back from study abroad, and with the experience that the underclassmen have gained this fall, should be in good shape.