Women’s tennis shines at ITA

The weather in Brunswick was less than desirable this past weekend for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional tennis tournament at Bowdoin. Fortunately for Williams fans, there was plenty to keep their attention indoors, as women’s tennis (1-0, 1-0 in the NESCAC) posted several successes and honors at a tournament with national implications.

The most notable effort of the weekend was the victory of tri-captain Julie Mallory ’04 and Caroline Bartlett ’06 in the doubles draw. Bartlett was forced to miss last Spring season due to illness and the victory last weekend marked her return.

“I spent nearly the entire summer getting myself healthy and ready to play tennis again in the fall,” Bartlett said. “It’s not just the result of last weekend that makes me so thrilled…it’s being out there on the tennis court again, being part of such a great group of girls, competing again and representing Williams that makes me feel like all my hard work has finally payed off.”

The win repeats a string of Williams triumphs in the same tournament and also earned both players all-American honors. In addition, the unseeded duo earned an invitation to the ITA National Small College Championships at Corpus Christi, TX in October. Unfortunately, as in the past, the players will likely be unable to attend that event due to scheduling conflicts with the New England Div. III championships.

Also regrettably, the path to victory for Mallory and Bartlett led directly through teammates Kate Troy ’04 and Steph Hall ’04. The tri-captain pair of Troy and Hall came in as the defending champions and number one seed in the doubles draw, making it all the way to the finals before being defeated by their compatriots.

On the singles side, Hall showed why she has emerged as the leader of the Ephs squad, as she also advanced the furthest in the singles draw. The third-seeded Hall made it to the semifinals before being defeated by Amherst’s Rachel Holt.

Mallory and Alex Maclennan ’06 also won their first singles’ matches. Seeded sixth coming in, Mallory defeated Smith’s Lauren Kemp (6-3, 6-3) and advanced to the quarterfinals with another dominating victory over Colby’s Allison Dunn (6-2, 6-3). After easily taking the first set against MIT’s Caroline Tien, Mallory lost the match in a well-fought heartbreaker (1-6, 6-4, 14-12).

After taking her first match against Connecticut College’s Beret Remak (2-6, 6-3, 10-5), Maclennan was forced to withdraw from her second round match against Coast Guard’s Cheryl Hickey after spraining her ankle during the match. After Maclennan’s strong performances in her past couple of matches, the loss was a blow to the team. “It was too bad that Alex went down early because we were all expecting her to have a good tournament and to go far,” Head Coach Julie Greenwood said.

Maclennan will be seeking medical attention for her injury. According to Greenwood, Maclennan may rest up, hoping to be 100 percent for the Amherst match. Even though the Ephs are undermanned this year, the team should progress smoothly through the next week without her.

Troy struggled early in the singles draw, losing her first match to Ashley Kriwinsky of Wheaton (7-6, 6-2). She has played well in the rest of her matches this year, however, and especially with her later advances in the doubles draw, that match appears to be only a small setback for Troy.

What should not be lost in the inevitable bittersweet result of the all-Eph doubles finals is the fact that Williams clearly dominated the draw. Both doubles tandems defeated Amherst pairs to advance to the finals. Mallory and Bartlett took down Tristan Hedrick and Holt, seeded number two in the draw (8-3), while Troy and Hall advanced past the Lord Jeffs’ Hadley Miller and Erin Murphy (9-8).

Hopefully, the strong performance against the NESCAC rivals will be a good indication of things to come for the team. “I feel really good at this point in the season and where we are heading,” Greenwood said. “I’m looking forward to what lies ahead for us.” Looking down the brackets, it is clear that Williams put in the strongest overall performance of any team at the tournament.

The regular season resumes tomorrow as the Ephs go on the road to play Middlebury. This match kicks off the first of two intense and critical weeks for the team. The Panthers are 3-1 this season after losing to Tufts 5-4 last weekend. They were pushovers for the Ephs last season, as Williams steamrolled the Panthers 9-0, but Middlebury looks like it could be stronger this year, with resounding victories over Skidmore, Union and Wesleyan.

Following that match, the Ephs go to Wesleyan on Saturday to take on another team that they handled easily last season. On Sunday, the Ephs have their first home match against Vassar, yet another team that failed to win any matches against Williams last year.

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