Seniors look to lead women’s tennis to the top

This fall, women’s tennis is looking forward to yet another dominant season. The three time defending NESCAC champions followed up two straight national titles with a third place showing at NCAA’s last year. There is little doubt that the squad will be in serious contention for similar honors this season.

Most notably, this year the team features the dominant senior trio of captains Kate Troy ’04, Julie Mallory ’04 and Steph Hall ’04. The three women, who have contributed heavily to the Ephs’ string of successes on the courts, are poised to maintain their high level of achievement.

Last year, Troy and Hall received All-American honors, while Hall was also named the co-NESCAC player of the year. All three seniors were also given all-NESCAC designations at the end of the season. Expect all three to contribute as the top singles and doubles players on the team.

In addition to the strong returning senior class, two important members of the team will be returning this year after taking time off last season. Caroline Wasserman ’04 who was originally a member of the class of ’03 but took the spring off last year to pursue an independent study project and has over a year of athletic eligibility remaining, has similarly impressive credentials to the rest of the seniors on the team.

Wasserman had played in the #1 singles slot for the Ephs in 2002 and was ranked as high as eighth nationally. She is also a two-time All-American.

Another notable return for the Ephs is Head Coach Julie Greenwood ’96, who took last year off to pursue a master’s degree at Stanford. In just five years at Williams, Greenwood has established herself as one of the top tennis coaches in the country. She has compiled an 80-12 record and led the Ephs as the first team ever to achieve back-to-back national titles in the history of the NCAA tournament. Last year’s interim coach Sarah Marks ’00 did a great job, but it will certainly not hurt the women to have Greenwood back at the helm.

The other known strength of the team this year will be the returning sophomore class of Alex Maclennan ’06 and Courtney Bartlett ’06. Maclennan was named first team All-NESCAC last year and played both singles and doubles for the team. Due to injury and illness, Bartlett was unable to compete last year, but the team is looking to her as another underclassman who will be able to make some big contributions.

Lauren Ayers ’07 rounds out the team as the seventh member and only first-year on the squad. Greenwood is a little concerned about having such a small number of players: “We can’t really afford any injuries this year.” But she also is looking forward to the teamwork and cooperation that can be established among such a small number of players.

The Ephs also will suffer some losses from last year’s team. Graduate Tracy Cheung ’03 was a consistent contributor in both singles and doubles for the squad. Also missing from last year’s team will be Brittany Binet ’05, who is studying away for the fall in Scotland. Binet played #6 singles last year and paired up with Maclennan in the #3 doubles tandem. Binet also earned first-team All-NESCAC honors. Fortunately for everyone involved, however, Binet will be back for the spring.

The Ephs’ first tournament of the season will be at Trinity on Sept. 20. Trinity was not one of the stronger NESCAC teams last year, but Greenwood is looking forward to the match: “Trinity is a good first match. They always hit the ball well, and will give us a good test to see how we are doing early in the season,” she said.

The following weekend, the Ephs travel to Bowdoin for the ITA regionals tournament. The Little Three title will be decided this fall also, as Williams travels to Wesleyan on Oct. 4, and then comes back home to take on Amherst on Oct. 10.

Amherst should live up to its rival status again this year. Last year, despite the Ephs’ successes, Amherst was able to capture the Little Three crown outright with two victories over the Ephs. However, Williams captured the NESCAC crown and came back to beat the Lord Jeffs for the third place title in the national tournament. It was this kind of momentum that has Greenwood most excited about the upcoming year. “Last year they definitely had a quality season, but I give a lot of credit to the girls for getting stronger and gaining momentum,” Greenwood said.

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