Women’s tennis looks to 3-peat as Div. III Champs

Women’s tennis has an incredible record. The Ephs have won the past two NCAA championship titles under the leadership of Head Coach Julie Greenwood ’96. This year, despite a slightly disappointing fall season, the girls are ready to fight for another title.

The fall tennis season was pretty strong for the women. However, they struggled at New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament (NEWITT), finishing third and falling short to both Amherst and Tufts. The Ephs also lost to Amherst in a dual match that ended a 39 meet win streak.

Despite the fall season, the women are ready to bounce back and step up for the spring season. The Ephs learned a lot from the fall season and have been working hard all winter.

“Practices are going great,” Kate Troy ’04 said. “We’re doing a lot of good fitness work and we’re doing well. And, more importantly, we’re excited for this season.”

The team is also undergoing some changes this spring. They recently lost senior Carolyn Wasserman ’03, who was playing the one-seed in the fall. Courtney Bartlett ’06 has also decided to take a break from tennis this semester, leaving the team with less than 10 players. Also, Sarah Marks ’00 is acting as head coach this entire year while Greenwood is away at Stanford working towards a master’s degree.

“As a former Williams player, Sarah knows the team well,” Troy said. “She played on the team with the current seniors, is in tune with the Williams traditions and knows what to do to succeed. She’s great.”

The team has ambitious but realistic goals for the season. Ultimately, they would like to finish well in the NCAA championship. In order to do this, the women must finish in the top two in the Northeastern Region. This usually boils down to matches between Amherst, Tufts, Trinity and Williams.

“We’re looking ahead to nationals and know that it’s our goal,” Steph Hall ’04 said, “but we’re also just trying to play our best all the time.”

The team is also looking forward to the NESCAC tournament, which will be hosted here at Williams. The Ephs have a good chance of winning but will have to be cautious of Amherst and Tufts.

“Amherst will probably be our biggest competition,” Julie Mallory ’04 said. “And it’s one of our last matches of the year.”

During spring break, the team is traveling to Atlanta, GA, to train and to play some competitive teams. “I think we’re all just really excited to start playing outside again and go down to Atlanta to play the other top schools in the country,” Hall said.

Over spring break they will play Shorter College, Rhodes, Claremont, Gustavus Aldophus, and Emory. Emory is will be a particularly challenging and exciting match as it is a repeat of last year’s final match in the NCAA tournament.

While the lineup for the spring has not yet been set, the Ephs have some strong players. Alex Maclennan ’06 is a strong addition to the team, who should perform well this spring. For a period of time this past fall, Maclennan played well enough for Marks to play her as the top seed in singles. This spring, Maclennan is expected to make the top six.

Also, Hall had an incredibly strong season in the fall. She placed first at the NEWITT tournament for #2 singles by beating Amherst’s Rachel Holt, who she lost to earlier in the season. A dominant doubles player since her frosh campaign, the team will now depend on the two-time All-American to lead the team in singles.

The team is particularly focusing on the doubles matches this spring. “Winning doubles matches picks up the momentum,” Troy said. “If we win our first three doubles matches, we should be in good shape.”

Perhaps more important than the matches or the winning streak is the team’s dynamic. “Tennis is an individual sport, but it becomes a team sport,” Troy said. “We focus on the team, making it more fun to play.”

Because the team currently has less than 10 players, players describe it as a small and comfortable group. Overall, it should be an exciting season for the two-time defending champions.