Women’s tennis starts ranked 2nd

After a 23-3 (8-0 in the NESCAC) fall season, women’s tennis is looking forward to the challenges of its spring schedule. The women enter the spring season as three-time defending NCAA champions and the second-ranked team in the NCAA.
While the fall season is primarily concerned with training, the spring season involves significantly more match play.

“I look forward to the spring because we play our toughest schedule. The spring is really the focus of the year,” Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 said.

“Spring break is when we’ll first really be tested,” said tri-captain Nikki Reich ’11. “We’re playing eight matches against nationally top-ranked teams. It’ll be great to see how we’re able to compete early in the season and determine where we have room to improve.” Over the break, the team will face Emory and University of Chicago, who open the season ranked third and fourth, respectively. Amherst is currently ranked first in the NCAA.

The women’s team returned eight players heading into the fall and also added three rookies to its roster: Kathleen Elkins ’14, Kara Shoemaker ’14 and Lindsay Thygesen ’14.

The team is younger than it has been in past years. “We’ve got a lot of new doubles teams this season, and we are working on combining those different styles of play,” Swain said.

Team chemistry will be critical to the team’s success individually and collectively. “One of our major strengths is definitely how close we all are as a team,” Reich said. “Our belief in one another and our love for competing drives us.”

“Based on the fall, our captains [Reich, Katie Friedman ’11 and Lucy Marchese ’11] are really the keys in terms of leadership and setting the tone for the team this season,” Swain said.

While Swain is impressed with the Ephs’ efforts thus far, she believes the women need to be challenged this season in order to perform to their full potential. “We need to get out of our comfort level a little bit,” she said. “This is something new for us, and I’m excited to see how it works out and how our players’ playing styles develop.”

The women’s first match of the season will take place against TCNJ at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The team will also face off against Breneau, University of Chicago, Washington and Lee, Sewanee, Gustavus and Emory over spring break before returning to NESCAC play for matches against Conn. College on April 2 and Bowdoin on April 9.

For now, the Ephs are just “excited to begin to play some outdoor tennis,” Swain said.