The two-time defending champion women’s tennis team (2-0) defeated the Trinity Bantams (1-2) in its home opener by a score of 7-2.
The Ephs began the match strong capturing two of three doubles matches. The winning pairs were Alex Maclennan ’06/Steph Hall ’04 and Caroline Wasserman ’03/Julie Mallory ’04.
The other pair, Tracey Cheung ’03/Kate Troy ’04, fell behind early. Cheung and Troy made a valiant comeback that fell just short, ultimately losing by a score of 8-6.
In the middle of Hall/Maclennan’s doubles match, Hall returned a serve right at Trinity’s Diana Dreyfus at such a high velocity it caused Dreyfus to drop her racket and fall to the ground in fright.
“I’m not sure what the tennis terminology is for that,” Hall said. “It’s a good way to keep the other team honest.”
As a team, the Ephs soundly defeated the Bantams in singles. Maclennan, Hall, Wasserman, Troy and Tina Howe ’03 were all victorious. Dreyfus, of Trinity College, celebrated her birthday by earning her team its lone singles point, defeating Mallory in three exciting sets (6-3, 6-7(4), 6-0).
Despite what the final score might suggest about the quality of Bantam tennis, Trinity is a well-respected NESCAC foe. Last year, the Ephs defeated Trinity in the regional finals.
“It’s a good win because Trin[ity] usually gives us a good match,” Head Coach Sarah Marks ’00 said. “Trinity is one of the top teams in the region.”
While the team won the match fairly easily, the performance of individual Ephs varied.
“As a team we won pretty handily,” Marks said. “Several players played at the top of their game, and that’s just fun to see. At other times, we were pushed.”
Maclennan and Hall played especially well against Trinity, both in singles and as a pair in doubles.
“Things came together,” Hall said of her doubles match with Maclennan. “We weren’t that strong in practice this week. We stepped it up today. She helped me focus.”
“We really clicked,” Maclennan said. “We’re going to have a lot of fun next week.”
This match was particularly meaningful for Maclennan as it was her first home match in a Williams uniform.
“It was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played in,” Maclennan said. “I’ve never had so much fun playing a match.”
Maclennan also suggested that a source of inspiration for her team came from her new purple manicure and pedicure.
“It was a really good first home match,” said Hall. “We were supporting each other and cheering each other on.”
The tennis team is particularly close and supportive. Every so often a player will yell down the court, “Let’s go Williams,” or other encouraging words. As each player’s individual game ends, those who have finished watch and cheer on those who are still playing.
Indeed, the synergy and collective focus on women’s tennis rivals that of a nearby football team who are also defending champions â€“ the New England Patriots.
The focus on the tennis court with these Williams women is usually centered around the team, rarely on individuals. It is this kind of selfless play that has won back to back national titles, allowed a first-year to play number one in singles and fostered an environment conducive to reaching full competitive potential.
The Ephs’ home opener also drew a lot of support from fellow students, alumni and parents. Several recruits also attended the game. The support from fellow teammates and fans, as well as picture-perfect weather all contributed to creating a warm environment for players and fans alike.
“There were a lot of fans who were very supportive today, and they got us in the right mindset,” Howe said. “It was a beautiful day to play today, and we had a lot of fun â€“ we were definitely strong and confident out there.”
“The alumni support is always appreciated,” Marks said. “We also have a good number of parents who drive an inordinate number of miles to come see us play.”
The Ephs have now won 36 of their last 37 matches. Though it may be too early to judge, it appears as though the Ephs haven’t lost the competitive and focused attitude of last year’s championship team.
“We’re at a good place in the season,” Marks said. “And we’re only going to get better.”
Next week, the Ephs will travel to Mount Holyoke College for the annual three-day Rolex tournament.
At that tournament there will be a singles draw as well as a doubles draw. Some members of the Williams team will go head to head against the best individual players and doubles teams in their region.