Women’s tennis sees strong individual play at ITA tourney

Last weekend, women’s tennis traveled to Babson College to participate in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) tournament, which was co-hosted by Babson and Wellesley. After playing through to the singles finals and doubles semifinals, defending singles champion Kristin Alotta ’12 fell to her competition in singles, also dropping in doubles, in which she played alongside her partner Nikki Reich ’11.

Friday found the women playing eight straight hours of tennis after a six-hour rain delay. The long day did not seem to affect the Ephs, as Reich, Caroline Capute ’12, Nancy Worley ’13, Alotta, Lucy Marchese ’11 and Kathleen Elkins ’14 each won her first-round match, the first time such a feat has been accomplished in Head Coach Alison Swain’s coaching career.

“This success shows the depth of our program right now as well as the competitive toughness of each player on our team, particularly with the long wait to start on Friday and adverse conditions,” Swain said.

Each singles player advanced to the round of 16 on Saturday morning. Doubles, too, found the women at the top of their game, as the teams of Worley and Taylor French ’12 and Capute and Marchese both took their matches in dominating scores of 8-1 and 8-4, respectively.

Due to Friday’s delays, Williams No. 1 doubles team Alotta and Reich did not play their first round match until Saturday morning, while their teammates were beginning their round of 16 matches. While Worley/French and Marchese/Capute did not advance – the former team was defeated while the latter team withdrew due to injury – Alotta and Reich advanced to the round of 16 and then again to the quarterfinals, where they triumphed 9-8 (3) over their Brandeis counterparts. Meanwhile, Alotta and Worley represented Williams in the semifinals of singles play after successfully playing through the round of 16 on Saturday.

Alotta took the ITA singles title last year, and it seemed very likely she would do the same at this tournament. However, in the singles finals on Sunday, Alotta fell 6-2, 6-0 to her Amherst rival, Jordan Brewer. Before her loss to her Jeff counterpart, Alotta won her semifinals match over another Amherst foe, Laura Danzig, in straight sets, which marked the Eph’s first time accomplishing that feat.

“To be the defending champion and make it all the way back to the finals again is a huge success and leaves much to be celebrated,” Swain said when asked about Alotta’s standout performance. “I think [Alotta’s] 6-2, 6-2 win over Laura Danzig in the semis and straight set wins through the finals are evidence of how strongly she is playing right now. I feel confident that she is more than ready to start our fall dual match season playing No. 1 singles for us.”

Alotta and Reich also fell 9-7 in the doubles semifinals against a rival pair from Amherst, but the value of tournament play, especially in the early fall season, is not measured in titles alone.

“The fall season is not about titles and outcomes,” Swain said when explaining her team’s mindset at this point in the season. “It is about identifying the areas in each player’s game and our team as a whole where we can improve. We will now start focusing on long term improvements in practice for the rest of our fall season with the goal being how we will play in the spring.”

The women will begin the fall’s dual match play when they travel to Wellesley for a 1 p.m. matchup on Sunday.