Williams tennis tallies pair of wins

Coming off a national championship last season, women’s tennis established that it still has what it takes to make it to the very top on Saturday, when Williams narrowly missed shutting out Vassar with a score of 8-1, after recording a shutout of Little Three opponent Wesleyan for a 9-0 victory last Tuesday.

“It was fun to have our first match be for the Little Three,” Head Coach Alison Swain said. “It really is difficult to say at this point where both our teams will be by April when we play the Amherst match for the Little Three title, but of course we will play our hardest to try to take it home again.”

In Saturday’s contest against the Brewers, the Ephs swept their doubles lineup and only let one match go in singles play. The duo of co-captain Cary Gibson ’09 and Nikki Reich ’11 was challenged, but nonetheless pulled through for a 9-7 victory. The other doubles teams of Kristin Alotta ’12 and Taylor French ’12, and co-captain Annie Hancock ’09 and Ashley Parsons ’11 both recorded decisive 8-3 and 8-1 victories, respectively, with the former showing the promise of newly recruited talent, while the latter demonstrates the conditioning of returning key players.

The top of the singles lineup found the only mark in the Ephs’ otherwise flawless execution, with Gibson losing two sets 6-3, 6-3 to Vassar’s Nicole Pontee. Reich, Parsons, Alotta, Hancock and Katie Friedman ’11 all made up for it, winning their respective matches convincingly.

Last Tuesday’s contest against Wesleyan started the season with flying colors when the women didn’t drop a set for the entirety of the match. It also witnessed the debuts of the team’s first-years – Alotta and French both won their singles matches, 6-0 and 6-1, respectively. Caroline Capute ’12, playing doubles with partner Friedman, won her debut exhibition match as well, 8-3.

“It is really fun to watch the newcomers on the team really mature competitively over the course of their first year of college tennis,” Swain said. “[French], [Capute] and [Alotta] are all very tough competitors, but even in just one match, I could see their confidence and court sense beginning to improve.”

The two other doubles teams of Reich and French and Hancock and Genny Loomis ’10 won their matches 8-5 and 8-3, respectively. In singles play, Hancock won her match with impressive 6-0, 6-0 victories. Reich, Parsons and Friedman also won easily.

“Last year, the depth of our doubles lineup really gave us an added edge against a lot of teams,” Swain said. “We are focusing a lot on doubles this fall, and I believe that come spring season our entire doubles lineup will be very solid and allow us to start each match very confidently.”

Despite her confidence in the ever-improving doubles lineup, Swain maintains that singles play is the team’s “bread and butter.” Although many of the players this season are competing in singles positions previously unknown to them, Swain affirms that the women are rising to meet the challenge.

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday the women will travel to MIT to compete in the ITA tournament, one of the biggest events of the fall season and one of the only individual tournaments in which Williams competes.
“I think we should expect some good results at this tournament, but [we will] focus on using it to gauge where our tennis is at right now,” Swain said, “and how we can use the three days of intense match play to help us improve as we head into the second half of our fall season.”