Women’s tennis rounds out fall at NEWITT

Women’s tennis closed out its fall season strong this weekend at the three-day New England Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament held at Amherst, Mt. Holyoke and Smith. The team’s performance follows wins over both Wesleyan and Tufts on Oct. 9.

Williams won both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ draws of the NEWITT in 2008 and the ‘B’ draw again last year but did not have anyone competing in the ‘A’ draw finals. “Reaching the finals this year was a huge accomplishment,” Head Coach Alison Swain said.

Williams entered four teams in the NEWITT. At the close of Day One, the Ephs were undefeated. Williams’ No. 1 doubles team of Kristin Alotta ’12 and Nikki Reich ’11 triumphed over 8-3 over Wellesley, and each also went on to defeat her opponent in singles, Alotta 8-3 and Reich 8-1.

Playing No. 2 doubles for the Ephs were Nancy Worley ’13 and Taylor French ’12, who beat their doubles opponents 8-1. Both players also won their singles matches later that day. Kathleen Elkins ’14 and Caroline Capute ’12 avenged an earlier season loss to Lauren Quinsenberry and Julia Hsu of MIT, winning both their doubles and singles matches as well. With Kara Shoemaker ’14 and Katie Friedman ’11 tallying the final win on the day, Williams advanced to the round of 16, with all of the team’s players competing in the ‘A’ draw.

On Saturday morning, both the teams of Worley and French and Elkins and Capute defeated their Wheaton and Bates opponents respectively in flawless 3-0 matches. Alotta and Reich, meanwhile, gained a 2-1 victory against Middlebury. Excepting Reich, who fell to her Panther opponent 4-6, 6-3, 10-8, every player won her singles match.

The team’s success was cut short when Amherst’s No. 1 doubles team handed Worley and French a 3-0 upset in the quarterfinals, while Elkins and Capute met with the same result in their match against Tufts. Alotta and Reich played to an 8-6 doubles victory over Amherst’s No. 2 team and a 2-1 overall result after Alotta defeated Laura Danzig 7-6(3), 6-1.

Alotta and Reich faced Tufts’ No. 1 team of Julia Browne and Shelci Bowman in the Sunday semifinals. Although previously undefeated in tournament doubles play, the Ephs fell 8-5. Both Alotta and Reich won their singles matches, ending the day with a 2-1 final and securing a spot in the finals. Browne, who is the 2010 NCAA singles champion and first-ranked player in Div. III tennis, fell 6-3, 7-6, 7-0 to Alotta.

The finals Sunday afternoon found Alotta and Reich facing Amherst’s Brewer and Devlin, who had gone undefeated in both doubles and singles on the weekend. The Jumbo pair played to a decisive 3-0 victory to capture the NEWITT win.

“[Alotta and Reich] played aggressively and made far fewer errors on returns, which helped them to compete better in doubles,” Swain said. “I think both players felt that they were very competitive with the Amherst team, and even though the matches didn’t turn out in our favor, I think they have a sense of where improvements can be made to be more competitive next time.”

Williams faced both Wesleyan and Tufts in a doubleheader Oct. 9. The Ephs dominated play against Wesleyan to sweep the match 9-0. Later that afternoon, the team followed up with a 6-2 upset of Tufts. Alotta put down her Wesleyan opponent 6-1, 6-0. Reich, Elkins, Shoemaker, Friedman and Lindsay Thygesen ’14 all took their respective singles matches.

In doubles, French and Worley blanked Wesleyan’s Genevieve Aniello and Nicki Softness 8-0. Thygesen and Capute and Shoemaker and her partner Veranika Li ’13 took their doubles matches also. No. 3 pair Shoemaker and Li debuted against Tufts. Swain noted their victory as an important first point for the match. Alotta and Reich faltered at No. 1, but the No. 2 team of Thygesen and Capute closed out a long doubles match with a 9-7 win.

Browne defeated Alotta in singles play Oct. 9, making Alotta’s subsequent NEWITT semifinal win over the Jumbo all the sweeter. However, Reich followed up with a singles win to take the Ephs to 3-2. Both Capute and Shoemaker quickly closed out their matches to give Williams the lead. Elkins claimed the final singles match for a 6-2 result.

With the conclusion of the fall season, the team is looking ahead to improvements in the spring. “The fall is a really important time for team chemistry, especially with three first-years all playing in the line-up at various points in the season,” Swain said. “We are heading into the spring with some very achievable goals and a sense of where improvements can be made to get our team and tennis to the next level.”