Women’s tennis stomps TCNJ in first home opener

Women’s tennis (9-2) tallied its first home win of the season last Saturday, breezing past The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), a team it has not met with in 10 years, with a decisive 7-2 win. The Ephs managed to take five out of the six singles matches with almost no trouble, and secured two of three in doubles play for a clear-cut victory.

In doubles play, the teams of Nikki Reich ’11 and Kristin Alotta ’12, and Lucy Marchese ’11 and Caroline Capute ’12 turned the tide decidedly in Williams’ favor early on, winning both their respective matches 8-4. Co-captain Grace Baljon ’10 and partner Taylor French ’12 fought hard in their attempt to notch another doubles victory for the Ephs, but fell to their Lion opponents 8-4 (4) in the tiebreaker.

The team followed up on its one-drop doubles play with strong singles play, only letting go of one singles match on six courts. Alotta took her sets easily with a 6-3, 6-0 result; Reich also followed up her doubles win with a consistent 6-3, 6-3 straight set win. Capute and Nancy Worley ’13, both in their first years playing singles for the Ephs, also put away two straight set wins each with scores of 7-5, 6-2 and 6-4, 6-1, respectively.

“Capute’s singles game has a lot of variety, and she is able to take her opponent’s out of their own game-style and get herself on offense,” said Alison Swain, head coach, of the new singles line-up. “Worley is a natural counter-puncher but has continually improved on putting short balls away in the court. Both players use their consistency and competitive determination as huge weapons in their match ups.”

With two singles matches remaining, the team had already secured its win against TCNJ. That, however, did not stop Baljon and Marchese from pushing themselves in three-set matches that went to super tiebreakers. Baljon was unable to pull out a victory in her tie-break, but Marchese was able to pull out a victory for the team’s seventh win of the day.

Saturday’s 7-2 victory followed a competitive spring break schedule. The Ephs were nearly perfect during the two weeks, defeating Emory and University of Chicago, which were ranked No. 2 and No. 4 in the country at the time, respectively, as well as No. 5 Washington and Lee, Redlands, Pomona-Pitzer and Carnegie Mellon. Emory and University of Chicago are currently ranked fourth and third, respectively, in the country.

The women suffered their only loss of the trip on March 31 at the hands of James Madison University, the only Div. I team on their schedule. The successful trip gave the Ephs a strong foundation for the rest of the season, having already contended against five of the nation’s top 10 ranked teams. Williams is currently ranked second in the country behind Amherst, which defeated the women during the fall season.

“The team exceeded every expectation that we set out to meet [on the trip],” Swain said when asked to comment on the team’s stellar spring break performance. “We really proved to ourselves that we have the determination and toughness to play the big points well and take advantage of opportunities in matches. I think our doubles teams and each player showed improvement with each successive match.”

The team will play its first conference match of the season on Saturday at 1 p.m., when the team travels to Tufts University to face off against the Jumbos. The women will hit the road again and head to Amherst, where the team hopes to continue its winning trend. Play against the Ephs’ archrival will commence at 11 a.m. on Sunday.