Women’s tennis defends top ranking against Amherst

No. 1 Women’s tennis had another winning weekend with a 9-0 victory against Wellesley at home on Sunday and a 6-3 win against archrival Amherst on Saturday.

On Sunday afternoon, the women took on No. 24 Wellesley and came away undefeated. In doubles competition, No. 1 pair Kristin Alotta ’12 and Kara Shoemaker ’14 won 8-4, No. 2 pair Caroline Capute ’12 and Kathleen Elkins ’14 won 8-5 and No. 3 pair Rebecca Curran ’15 and Nancy Worley ’13 won 8-3.

The six singles matches were all won by the Ephs in two-set matches. At No. 1 singles, Worley won 7-5, 6-1 in the second position, Alotta eased by with 6-3, 6-2 sets. Shoemaker won her two sets in two tiebreakers. Mental toughness was key in this match-up, and Shoemaker battled hard for the win.

Curran at No. 4, Capute at No. 5 and Maria Pylypiv ’15 in the sixth position all walked away having lost no more than 2 games in any single set.

The Amherst match was played at Mount Holyoke on Saturday. The Ephs were poised to defend their No. 1 status against the Jeffs, who are currently ranked No. 2 in the country.

“I am really proud of the girls for our win over Amherst this past weekend,” Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 said. “There’s a lot that goes into playing your top rival and even more when that team is currently the No. 2 team in the nation.”

In doubles, Worley and Shoemaker lost to Amherst opponents 8-4 in the first spot. The No. 2 team of Elkins and Capute and the No. 3 team of Alotta and Curran won their matches 8-3.

“I thought our team played focused, high-percentage tennis,” Swain said. “In doubles, the team was confident and aggressive.”

Singles wins came from Shoemaker in the third position, No. 4 Elkins, Curran in the fifth spot and Capute in No. 6. Shoemaker, Curran and Capute all won their individual matches in two sets.

Worley in the first position and Alotta in the No. 2 spot both fell to their opponents in hard-fought battles on the court. Alotta’s match against Lord Jeff Laura Danzing came to a third set after a tiebreaker in the second set, but Amherst came out with the win 6-2. Worley fell 6-2, 6-1 to Lauren Brewster.

Pylypiv, Pastor and Lindsay Thygesen ’14 won exhibition matches against their Amherst rivals in single eight-game sets. Pastor had an incredible match, completely blanking her opponent.

“It was a great feeling to know that I’m playing one of our biggest rivals so early in the year,” Pastor said. “It was nice for everyone to play at a high level together. Everyone learned something at the end of the day.”

The wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, as well as in the third through sixth spots in singles speaks for the incredible depth of the team this year.

“We’re very excited about our win over Amherst,” Capute said. “There’s something about the rivalry that brings the best tennis out of both teams, so wins against them are always something to be really proud of.”

As the next step in the fall season, the women will travel to Bates this weekend to compete in the New England ITA Regional Championship.

“The girls on the team really value an ethic of hard work and the ways that hard work pays off in team improvement and mental toughness,” Swain said. “We will use the rest of the fall to keep improving as a team. I hope that we start our spring competitive schedule with confidence in our skills and competitive ability.  We will play some really tough competition this spring, but I believe that our wins this fall will help us be our best.”