Women’s tennis competed in its first dual match of the season against Wellesley on Sunday. The beginning of dual match play found the Ephs coming off impressive performances at both the Williams Invitational and the ITA Tournament over the past few weekends, though chances at both a singles and doubles title in the latter were squelched by Amherst foes. However, the women showed no signs of giving up points Sunday, playing to a flawless 9-0 victory over their Wellesley opponents.
“Our team did an excellent job – in both singles and doubles – of coming out strong and controlling points from the beginning,” Head Coach Alison Swain said. “When our opponents made adjustments, our players never let more than a few points or a game pass without adjusting back in order to stay in control of the points. I was impressed that we were also able to incorporate so quickly some of the shot patterns that we began working on just this past week in practice.”
Kristin Alotta ’12, playing No. 1 singles for the Ephs, proved her claim to the position as she easily put away her match against Wellesley’s Jaqueline Shen with a 6-1, 6-0 result. Playing at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively, Nancy Worley ’13 and Nikki Reich ’11 followed suit, taking their matches 6-3, 6-3 and 6-2, 6-1. Caroline Capute ’12 won her matches in flawless 6-0, 6-0 sets on court four.
Rookies Kathleen Elkins ’14 and Kara Shoemaker ’14 both had successful dual match debuts, playing at No. 5 and No. 6 singles for the team, respectively. Elkins decided her match with a firm 6-0, 6-2 result, while Shoemaker only let one point go in her 6-0, 6-1 outcome against her Wellesley rival.
Taylor French ’12 and Katie Friedman ’11 rounded out the Ephs’ singles performance by clinching their respective exhibition matches.
Alotta once again set the standard for her teammates in doubles play. Playing at No. 1 doubles, Alotta and Reich defeated Wellesley’s Shen and Diana Granger 8-5. French and Worley followed up with an 8-2 win, while Capute and her partner, Lindsay Thygesen ’14, played to a perfect 8-0 result. Shoemaker and Veranika Li ’13 topped it all off with a win in exhibition play, allowing Williams to end the day with a perfect record.
The fall dual match season is crucial in determining a lineup not only for the later fall competitions but also for the more important spring season. Swain got a good sense of her players’ strengths this past weekend, enabling her to adjust the lineup for optimal performance.
“As the fall season [continues] and certainly in spring, I have no doubt that the lineup will shift and continue to take shape as we play tougher competition and everyone on the team improves,” Swain said.
This Saturday, the team will travel to face Amherst, where it is possible the team will face the same lineups that gave it some trouble at the ITAs. Nevertheless, Swain is pushing her team to focus on the big picture, rather than having them getting caught up in a tough match early on.
“Amherst is extremely talented this year, and I have no doubt that their talent will enable them to play very tough tennis on Saturday,” Swain said. “As a coach, I’m focused on keeping my team concentrating on the long-term improvements they want to make between now and our spring conference season, and we will work on those tactical and technical aspects this week in practice.”
Though Amherst is technically a conference rival, this match does not open conference play for Williams. The team will play its first conference match of the year against Amherst in the spring Little Three tournament.
Play will begin at 11 a.m. in Amherst on Saturday.