Women’s tennis dominates league at NESCACs

Some teams have a few great players, while others teams have great depth in the lineups. And there are the teams that have both and dominate their opponents. After this weekend’s NESCAC championship, it is clear that the women’s tennis is in the third category.

In an overwhelming display of their versatility, depth and skill level, the Ephs took all of the six possible titles in doubles and singles competition. In addition to their six champions, the Ephs had two more players finish as finalists in the singles.

Their total score of 35 points was more than double their next closest competitor, Trinity, who collected 15 points. The tournament marked a repeat of last year’s performance, where the Ephs also swept all six titles.

“What impressed me the most about our play this weekend was our consistency,” said Julie Greenwood, head coach of women’s tennis. “We didn’t play our best in all of our matches, but we competed very well, worked through the tough times, and played well when we needed to across the board.

“It is pretty remarkable, for the second straight year, to have had seven of eight singles finalists and to win all of the flights.”

In the singles A flight, Williams used its number one and two players, co-captain Selma Kikic ’02 and Julie Mallory ’04. While Kikic had a bye in the first round, Mallory faced a challenging match against Bowdoin’s Paulette Hricko, who had beaten her earlier in the year. In a close three-game match in which Mallory did what she could to recover from an early deficit, Hricko eventually closed the match, winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

While Mallory struggled, her teammate, Kikic, in her final NESCAC tournament, rolled. In the second round, she quickly disposed of Colby’s Sara Hughes, 6-1, 6-4. In the quarterfinals, Kikic made fast work of her opponent, Lauren Ready of Middlebury, by winning 6-1, 6-3.

In the Semifinals, Kikic showed the same overpowering ability, dropping Rachel Holt of Amherst 6-3, 6-2. In Sunday’s final, Kikic put the final touches on an impressive weekend of singles play by crushing Trinity’s Diana Goldman, 6-0, 6-2.

Through the weekend, Kikic did not drop a set throughout four matches and won a total of 48 games compared to the 16 she lost.

In singles B play, both number three Kate Troy ’04 and number four Steph Hall ’04 received byes into the second round. In the second round, both Troy and Hall defeated their respective opponents, Tiffany Lo of Wesleyan and Ginger Pearson of Hamilton, by identical 6-1, 6-0 scores.

In the quarters, Troy only dropped two games total in defeating Bowdoin’s Betsy Hayes, while Hall emerged victorious from a close second game to beat Bowdoin’s Tara Sheehan, 6-2, 7-5.

In the Tufts-Williams semifinals, Troy faced Trina Spear while Hall faced Iffy Saeed. In a surprise to no one, both Troy and Hall coasted to easy two-set victories to set up an all-Williams final.

In the final, the higher-seeded Troy prevailed over her teammate Hall, winning 6-3, 7-5 to claim the title.

The singles C play proved to be nearly a carbon copy of the B play. Both Tracy Cheung ’03 and co-captain Jasmine Bradley ’02 received byes into the second round, where Cheung shut out Tina Vu of Tufts, while Bradley struggled early before overtaking Neda Pisheva 7-5, 6-2.

In quarterfinal play, Cheung again captured a quick two-game victory, while Bradley dropped her first game against Middlebury’s Nina Popel but recovered nicely by winning the last two games 6-3, 6-1.

In the semifinals, both Cheung and Bradley played at high levels as they both won in two games to set up another all-Williams final. In a tightly contested final, Cheung won two close games, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) to give Williams all three singles titles.

The title for Cheung was especially sweet, as she has been up and down this season since returning from studying abroad.

“I was really excited about Tracy’s play this weekend,” said Greenwood. “She made a lot of progress competitively and in terms of her own confidence, which is exactly what she and the team needed. I see this as a stepping stone and expect her to continue to play better, stronger, and tougher tennis as we head into the most important part of our season.”

In the doubles competition, Williams only continued to flex its muscle. The number one team of Kikic/Hall raced through the first two matches without giving up a game in the A division. In the finals, the team finally received a challenge from Kikic’s younger sister, Sanida, and her doubles partner Alexis Bawden of Bowdoin. Age prevailed, though, as Kikic and Hall won 8-5 to clinch the title.

In the B division, the team of Troy and Cheung shut out the quarterfinals opponents from Connecticut College and then defeated the Amherst duo of Roopali Agarwal and Rachel Holt 8-4. In the finals, Troy and Cheung had little difficult with Tufts team of Neda Pisheva and Barclay Gang, winning 8-3.

Finally, in the C doubles division, Mallory and Bradley defeated all three of their opponents by an 8-2 margin as they cruised through the finals and secured the sixth title for the Ephs.

The team will spend the next week basking in the wake of their dominating performance before taking on Tufts at Amherst on Sunday.