Women’s tennis finishes undefeated in NESCAC play

With a victory over Bates on Sunday and another over Bowdoin on Saturday, women’s tennis closed out its regular season 15-2, 6-0 in the NESCAC. The women are currently ranked second in the nation and earned the top seed in the conference tournament, which will be held this weekend at Middlebury.

“I think finishing our regular season undefeated in the NESCAC and with a strong out-of-conference record has built our confidence in our team’s ability to compete at the highest level of Div. III tennis,” said Head Coach Alison Swain. “However, I think even more importantly, we have played one of the toughest schedules of any top team in the country and this has pushed us to play and compete well on a consistent basis this spring season.”

The Ephs success this season has not been without obstacles. At the season’s start shifts were made to the line-up and again towards the end of the season when star player Lucy Marchese ’11 was injured, rendering her unable to play for the rest of the season.

“The slight shifts in the line-up have certainly made our doubles teams stronger and allowed athletes to compete in positions that they feel strong in for the singles line-up,” Swain said.

Despite the heat on Sunday, the women coasted to an 8-1 victory over the Bobcats. In doubles play, Bates gained a bit of ground when their duo of Cecilia Grissa and Alexandra Piacquad edged the second-ranked doubles pair in the nation, Cary Gibson ’09 and Annie Schneidman ’08, 8-6. However, this defeat by the No. 17 doubles team was not enough to derail the women. The two other doubles teams of Allie Rottkamp ’08 and Grace Baljon ’10 and Nikki Reich ’11 and Annie Hancock ’09 won their matches against the Bobcats 8-0 and 8-1, respectively.

In the singles line-up, Gibson, Baljon, and Rottkamp all earned 6-0, 6-0 victories. The other Ephs also took down their opponents to pave the way for a singles sweep of Bates.
Saturday’s match against Bowdoin was not as decisive as the win over Bates. But the Ephs responded well to pressure and earned a respectable 6-3 win.

Doubles play ended on a high note when Gibson and Schneidman and Reich and Hancock won their matches 8-5 and 8-4, respectively.

The singles matches gave the Ephs a harder time. Playing No. 1 singles, Gibson lost her matches to Bowdoin’s Kristen Raymond, 6-3 and 6-4. Hancock, after a 6-3 loss to Polar Bear Elizabeth Pedowitz, answered with a 6-0 second set but then lost the third, 6-4.

Despite these unexpected outcomes, the rest of the singles line-up avenged their teammates’ losses by playing well in their respective matches. Baljon clinched her match, 6-4, 7-5; Ashley Parsons ’11 won out, 7-6, 6-4; Reich cruised to victory, 6-1, 6-2; and Rottkamp battled to win, 6-0, 5-7, 6-2.

“Being at the top of the NESCAC at the end of the season is a great accomplishment, but it is going to take our best competitive effort over the weekend to prove once again that we deserve to be there,” Swain said. “There are five top 20 teams in the nation playing in our conference tournament, so every match from here on out is going to be a battle.”
The NESCAC championships will be held at Middlebury beginning on Friday.