Women’s tennis sweeps Vassar, awaits Amherst

Despite rain and other delays, women’s tennis swept Vassar 9-0 to continue a six-match winning streak dating back to last spring.

“Our team handles things like this in stride pretty well, but I was particularly impressed with how strong we came out from the start of the doubles matches,” Head Coach Alison Swain said.

The Ephs dominated from the very beginning of doubles play and dropped only 12 games in four matches, after tri-captain Grace Baljon ’10 and Taylor French ’12 set the tone, defeating their opponent 8-5.

Vassar’s Nicole Pontee, playing at No. 1 singles, seemed determined not to let the Ephs take singles play as easily as they had doubles. Coming off the semifinals of the ITA Tournament last weekend and playing a strong first set to upset Baljon 4-6, it seemed that Pontee’s resolve might have turned the tide. But with focus and determination, Baljon rallied for two nearly flawless sets (6-1, 6-0) to put Williams ahead in singles play.

Swain noted a calm and focus in her team that, to be displayed this early in dual match play, is “commendable. If someone lost a point or a game, they refocused, stayed positive and fought back even harder for the next point,” Swain said. “That is the kind of mentality we need to have in the toughest of matches.”

The rest of the team found an example in Baljon, taking the remaining eight singles matches in straight sets. A weekend after winning the regional title at the ITA Tournament, Kristin Alotta ’12 played her way to a 6-1, 6-0 finish. Nikki Reich ’11, Lucy Marchese ’11, tri-captain Ashley Parsons ’10, Caroline Capute ’12, French and tri-captain Genny Loomis ’10 all notched singles victories one after another for a 9-0 sweep on the day.

First-year Nancy Worley ’13 continued to impress in her collegiate debut season, playing with successful composure. The team’s other first-year, Veranika Li ’13, took her first dual-match win during singles exhibition play.

“I think the girls proved to me yesterday that one of my biggest challenges for the year ahead is going to be finding ways to continue to stretch them strategically on the court so they can continue to improve,” Swain said.

Williams will host Amherst this Saturday and Wellesley the next day. The Jeffs were the only team to give the Ephs trouble last season, handing Williams its only two losses, and will be out for revenge after the Ephs defeated them in the finals of NCAAs last year.

“We’re really excited to play Amherst because it is always a great match – regardless of the rivalry, Amherst has been our toughest opponent,” said Parsons. “Ever since I have played Amherst my freshman year, it has been such a big match that has been really hyped up. This week, we have tried to attack it like it is any other match – we are trying to prepare by focusing on our game and not our opponents. It’s still really early on in the season, but everyone is playing really well … The fact that it is home makes it even more exciting.”