Women’s tennis claims 4 NEWITT titles

Women’s tennis has a chance to warm up every fall before the more intense spring season, but the team was already on fire this fall and might just burn through the opposition come springtime. Williams posted solid victories at the New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament (NEWITT) this weekend. Competing across six flights of singles and three flights of doubles, the Ephs claimed first place at second, third and fifth singles and at third doubles. They won second place at fourth and sixth singles and at first and second doubles. The tournament set Williams on course for a standout spring season.

Head Coach Alison Swain was pleased with the results of the tournament. “Every single player played deep into their respective draws, and we came home up with some very big tennis in the finals,” she said. “Being able to take away so many first and second place finishes is a testament to the depth of the team this year, and a lot of hard work over the past two months.”

Grace Baljon ’10 powered through her opponents from Roger Williams, Simmons and Bowdoin before beating Tufts’ Meghan McCooey, 6-1, 6-4, in the final at second singles. The win concluded what has been a quite impeccable season for Baljon – her only singles loss has come at the hands of teammate Cary Gibson ’09 in the finals at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association tournament in September. Gibson lost a tough match against Tufts’ Grace Cascarilla in the quarterfinals of first singles this weekend.

Further down the line, the Ephs took win upon win. Lucy Marchese ’11 never dropped more than a game in her early matches against players from Springfield, Colby and Bowdoin. She advanced to the finals for third singles, where she defeated Tufts’ Julia Browne, 6-1, 6-2. Ashley Parsons ’10 had been slowly coming back this fall after getting knee surgery over the summer, but she played at the top of her game all this weekend. She tore through players from Trinity, MIT and Bowdoin to reach the final at fifth singles. There, she blanked a strong competitor from Amherst, Carlissa King.

The Ephs also reached the singles finals at fourth and sixth singles. Nikki Reich ’11 had a strong run into the fourth singles finals, but fell to Amherst’s Monica Snyder, 6-1, 6-4. Tri-captain Annie Schneidman ’08 advanced to the finals at sixth singles, where she lost to Amherst’s Jen Murphy in a long three-setter, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

First-years Marchese and Reich proved to be a winning pair as they competed together for the first time. They earned first place at third doubles as they wrapped up a clean run to the final with an 8-2 victory over Amherst seniors Jen Murphy and Laura Stein. After losing all three doubles matches to Amherst two weeks ago, the win was “really good redemption,” Swain said.

As expected, Gibson and Baljon met Amherst’s Alicia Menezes and Brittany Berckes in the first doubles finals. The Williams pair kept the match close, but the Amherst players had the edge, winning 9-7.

Schneidman and tri-captain Allie Rottkamp ’08 paired up at second doubles. They advanced to the finals, where Tufts’ McCooey and Miranda Young beat the women, 8-2.

“All three of the doubles teams were very solid … and able to generate many opportunities for themselves by closing the net and playing aggressively,” Swain said.

The tournament showed the strength and the depth of the team this year, and the Ephs are confident in their ability to compete against the best teams in Div. III this spring. Swain said, “We are heading into the off-season with a lot of momentum and a good understanding of what we will be working on so that we can be competing at our highest level this spring.”

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