Women’s tennis suffers 1st loss

Women’s tennis (12-1, 4-1 in the NESCAC) was busy the last week, playing four NESCAC matches and hosting three rivals at home in a span of 24 hours. Despite suffering a disappointing first loss of the season, a defeat by archrival Amherst (5-0, 13-1) on Saturday that put the only blemish on the team’s season, the women managed to sandwich the loss between wins over Middlebury (4-2, 9-7) on April 14 and Bowdoin (4-2, 7-6) and Colby (1-5, 4-9) on Sunday.

The Ephs swept Sunday’s doubleheader against the Polar Bears and the Mules with two 9-0 wins. In the match against Colby, which began only an hour after the Ephs defeated Bowdoin, Lucy Marchese ’11 and Ashley Parsons ’10 stepped up to doubles play for the first time this season, breezing through the match for an 8-4 win.

This weekend’s games marked Marchese’s first return to the court after her knee injury last March. Marchese, who had been assistant-coaching beside Swain, took her doubles match as well as her singles match against Bowdoin earlier in the day.

Co-captain Cary Gibson ’09 and Nikki Reich ’11 and co-captain Annie Hancock ’09 and Kristen Alotta ’12 also took their matches easily.

Singles play was met with similar command, as no Williams player gave up more than two sets. Katie Friedman ’11 was especially adept in her match, notching a flawless 6-0, 6-0 win.
The Ephs deposed the Polar Bears just as easily as they did the Mules, winning every match and ending Colby’s four-match win streak.

“I think our 9-0 win over Bowdoin and Colby really shows that the team took the Amherst loss hard, but responded in a really positive and effective way,” said Head Coach Alison Swain.

The loss, by a heartbreaking 5-4 mark, was the first the Ephs had suffered all season. Gibson and Reich were pitted against their familiar foes Natasha Brown and Brittany Berckes, who overcame the Eph duo in the finals of the Middlebury Doubles Tournament back in October. The Jeffs pair once again dealt a loss to Gibson and Reich, but only in a tiebreak. The Ephs still emerged from doubles trailing the Jeffs 2-1.

Singles play was also a challenge for Williams, as the Jeffs were hungry to sully the Ephs’ perfect mark. Reich suffered her first singles loss of the season at the hands of Carlissa King. Grace Baljon ’10 defeated Brittany Berckes in three sets, but the Ephs were only able to come out of singles play with a 3-3 mark, bringing the final tally to 5-4 in favor of the Jeffs.

“The Amherst match is always a battle,” Swain said. “The rivalry always brings out the most in both teams, and to put it simply, Amherst played better than we did on Saturday – however, I think the match is fuel for the fire so to say, and I think we will have a great week of practices in preparation for our last regular season matches this coming weekend.”
Prior to the Amherst loss, the Ephs continued their dominance with a 7-2 defeat of Middlebury on April 14. The women went 5-1 in singles play, with all five wins coming in straight sets, while the doubles teams emerged with a 2-1 advantage. “[Middlebury] always poses tough competition for us,” Swain said. “We were very excited by the win, particularly our singles play.”

The team plays their final regular season matches this weekend, away at Trinity on Saturday and at Hamilton on Sunday.