Despite facing fierce NESCAC opponents and insistent rain during outdoor play, women’s tennis made a strong showing through all rounds of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Tournament, held at MIT’s duPont Tennis Courts this weekend. Williams’ doubles team of co-captain Cary Gibson ’09 and Nikki Reich ’11 claimed the doubles title. Gibson also made it to the semi-final round of singles play, but fell to Tufts’ Julia Browne in a three-set match.
“The ITA Tournament is different than a standard duel match in that players that play four through six in our lineup get the opportunity to compete against the number one and two players on other teams,” Head Coach Alison Swain said. “I believe with such a deep team, these experiences are very valuable in terms of our players getting a sense of where their games are and how they can improve going forward.”
Because the tournament pitted players from across the lineup against one another, the Ephs encountered some challenges along the way as they advanced from round 64 to championship matches. On the first day of play the Ephs established their doubles prowess, with top-seeded Reich and Gibson taking down their NESCAC opponents from Bates, 8-4. First-years Kristin Alotta ’12 and Taylor French ’12 easily overcame MIT, 8-1. Co-captain Annie Hancock ’09 and Ashley Parsons ’10 topped conference rivals Conn. College, 8-4.
In singles play on Friday, first-seeded Gibson shut-out her MIT opponent Melissa Diskin in two sets in the Round of 64, 6-0, 6-0, and readily defeated NESCAC opponent Jennifer Levet from Trinity 6-1, 6-0. Alotta, Reich, Hancock and Katie Friedman ’11 also took their singles matches in the Round of 64, and Gibson, Alotta and Reich advanced past the Round of 32.
Day two of the ITA Tournament found the Ephs facing more challenges than they had encountered on Friday. By the end of the doubles quarterfinals and the semifinals, Gibson and Reich were the only Eph team to remain in the bracket. Their advancement proved more tricky to secure, when an 8-8 set in the semifinal match against Amherst rivals Laura Danzig and Jill Wexler led to a tiebreaker that the women managed to win 7-2. Alotta and French fell in the doubles quarterfinals to Bowdoin’s Sarah D’Elia and Brett Davis, after defeating their Vassar opponents in the Round of 16.
In singles play, teammates Gibson and Alotta found themselves pitted Eph against Eph. After the first two sets, the score was split 2-6 and 6-2, and it was only in the super tie-breaker that Gibson defeated Alotta 10-4. Gibson then defeated Amherst foe Natasha Brown in a three-set match, while Reich fell to Tufts’ Julia Browne in the quarterfinals.
“It is very unfortunate that [Alotta] and [Gibson], two seeded players in the draw, met in the Round of 16,” Swain said. “They competed well against each other, but it is always tough to be playing to advance over one of your own teammates.”
On Sunday, the hard work of the tournament came to fruition, when Gibson and Reich earned All-American honors and the doubles title. The championship came on the heels of Gibson and Reich’s doubles semifinal, in which they bested their Bowdoin counterparts. In the doubles final, Gibson and Reich found themselves both facing Browne and teammate Meghan McCooey. The Eph combo claimed victory with a tie-breaker.
“It is exciting to come home as champions from this very important tournament,” Swain said. “I think [their] win is also a testament to the strength of our entire doubles line-up.”
Despite her success in doubles play, Gibson couldn’t notch a win in her singles semifinal against Tufts’ Browne, who had defeated Gibson’s partner Reich in her singles quarterfinal. Browne topped Gibson in three sets (5-7, 6-3, 6-4), and went on to claim the singles title.
The Ephs will head to Middlebury this Saturday and Sunday for the Doubles Invitational.